All posts by Karah

I'm Karah and I'm so glad you're here! I'm a small town girl from the North East who finds myself moving around with my husband and pups every few years and constantly on a journey to make the most of every space we find ourselves in. That little space between what has been and what will be. It'd be so cool if you'd like to join us for the ride.

waterside home tour

Hey hey everyone!  How are you?  If you’re stopping in from In My Own Style’s waterside home tour, welcome!  And if you haven’t been over to see Diane’s house you have to.  Diane and her husband just recently bought a beautiful home on a lake and she is working to update every space and make it their own.  It is a fun process to follow along with!  And, I’m lucky enough to know Diane in person and happen to know she is a true gem.

Now, for our little venture into the realm of home tour and our take on coasting inspired DIY and decor.

I would really like to think that I am the type of girl who decorates with a hint of coastal inspiration.

driftwood crafts

But the reality is that I’m the girl who glues driftwood to more driftwood and hangs it on a wall as art below yet another piece of driftwood.  I actually like the visual reminder of where we are (btw, if you’re new here, we live in Aruba (I know!), this little sign reminds me to be so thankful for where we are now and to not take a moment of it for granted because we know this little slice of paradise is not meant to be ours forever.  You can check out the tutorial for the driftwood fish here.

As I’ve photographed the current state of our little Aruban apartment I realized my approach is not subtle at all.  There is sand and seashells in glass jars and lanterns, fan coral turned art piece, a DIY wooden compass and more baskets and bins filled with driftwood, sea sponges and coral than I care to admit.  But I love it.  And Joel, my husband, tolerates it so I call that a win!

fan coral art


driftwood basket

sand and shell filled jars

The contents of these jars hold memories near and dear to my heart.


My Grammie’s quilts remind me of summer days at the lake in Maine.

lanterns in mirror reflection

sea sponges and coral

Turns out I am a bit more of a minimalist than I thought so I don’t have a lot of full room shots because they just looked a bit bare.  The details are more fun up close anyway, right?!?!

Here’s a look at our newly refinished kitchen.  Last year we gutted the entire space and this is what we ended up with.  We are totally in love.

aqua bar stools

open shelves in the kitchen

open shelves in the kitchen

open shelves in the kitchen

open shelves in the kitchen

My sister-in-law brought us that sign about wine, it’s too bad she really doesn’t know us at all.

open shelves in the kitchen

open shelves in the kitchen

open shelves in the kitchen

open shelves in the kitchen

DIY compass

I’d say the coastal influence appears a bit more subtly in the kitchen.  It’s less driftwood and coral and more touches of aqua and pictures of us by the water.

Although a space wouldn’t be complete around here without some driftwood so there is a DIY latitude and longitude sign as another reminder of where we are.

But the most dramatic view of our apartment is actually the one of our view.  Whenever I’m looking for inspiration I just spend a quiet morning on our balcony soaking this in.

Palm Beach Aruba rainbow

Palm Beach Aruba with the early morning sun - this blogger lives there, so many beautiful island photos on the blog


And every now and again there are the most magnificent sunsets.

aruba sunset

aruba sunset

Thanks so much for taking our little tour with us.  Before you go, if you are into DIY, I’ve started a new FB community that I hope to turn into a one-stop resource for DIYers, the avid, the wanna be and the everyone in between.  I’m sharing regular inspiration with links directly to the how-to and encourage everyone’s input on what types of projects to find and share.  If that’s your sort of thing I’d love to see you over there.  You can sign up for the Easy DIY Project Ideas group here and like the Easy DIY Project Ideas FB page here.  And there are video mini tutorials for the driftwood fish and the fan coral art.  Thanks for checking it out!

Now head on over to DIY Passion for more coastal inspiration!  And don’t miss any of the great tours that are a part of this group!

A tour of 16 GORGEOUS homes inspired by nearby waters!!!

Monday, June 20

Table & Hearth
The Happy Housie
In My Own Style
The Space Between
DIY Passion
Brian & Kaylor

Wednesday, June 22

Starfish Cottage
Family and the Lake House
What Meegan Makes
Migonis Home
Up to Date Interiors

Friday, June 24

Nina Hendrick
Simple Nature Decor
Slightly Coastal
Setting for Four

WATERSIDE SUMMER HOME TOUR - A tour of 16 gorgeous homes inspired by their neighboring coasts and shores!

Easy DIY Project Ideas

Hello again!

Thank you so much for the comments on the last post, and the understanding, it is very much appreciated. xo  I have the home tour ready for you for Monday, I hope you love seeing some of the new things around the apartment.  And the blog hop is all Waterside Home Tours so it will be neat to see how others who live by the water are inspired by it in their decor.

And, I hinted to it in the last post but I wanted to keep you in the loop about where you can find me online these days.  I’d love to keep in touch with you all!

I’ve started a new Facebook Page and Group both called … Easy DIY Project Ideas!  Any guesses what it’s about? haha

If that’s all you need to know, please click over and Like the Page here and Join the Group here.  You can also join the group by clicking the Sign Up button in the header of the page.


If you’d like to hear more …

In all of this time that I’ve tried to figure out how to stay connected with you all, without transitioning this little space of ours into something other than what it is, I realized it is the sharing of inspiring and creative DIY ideas with other DIYers that I really enjoy.  And not necessarily my own projects.  I do my fair share of projects, but we all know how these hobbies ebb and flow and sometimes we aren’t right in the middle of our own project but we’re always on the look out for just that spark that will get us going again.

Or maybe you just cleaned out a closet and need to use up all of that [insert supply you have an excessive amount of lying around].

Or you like helping others with ideas for their project dilemmas.  Deborah is looking for ideas to update her light, maybe you can help here?

The plan is to create a community for all DIYers, the avid, the wanna be and the everyone in between.  I’d like to connect DIYers with easy project ideas and establish a community around sharing those ideas.  I am only sharing links that lead directly to a project tutorial and images of projects that are more self-explanatory.  With some DIY humor and a bit of general inspiration built in.

I would love for you to hop over and check it out and see if it is the type of page that you’d be into.  If not, no worries, I know it’s not going to be for everyone.  But if you do see projects you like a simple like and comment on that post will let me know you want to see more items like that.  This blanket ladder and this shutter upcycle have been hits so far.

And I just did my first ever Facebook Live video (fear of live video on social media curbed = check) giving a little introduction and showing the current iteration we have of the driftwood fish art project.  The plan is that the video will be embedded here … but if it’s not there you can check it out (it’s only 4 minutes) here.


So, hopefully I’ll see you over there, the Facebook Page and the Facebook Group, and if not I’ll definitely see you back here on Monday!

the time has come

pallet art tutorial

Hey there!

How have you been?!?!  Long time no talk.  I’ve gotten all of your messages and emails and comments here and there checking in on us.  Thank you so much for those.

As you’ve probably noticed I’ve taken a step (or six) away from this blog of late.  So many things have changed since our move to Aruba and although I loved sharing every bit of our DIY journey in Curacao and Key West I find myself feeling increasingly private and protective of our little life experience.  I’m sure some of it has to do with moving into an apartment we don’t own, and some about losing our baby girls (we lost Marley in January, just 4 months after losing Mico, I still can’t talk about it, I’m not sure that’s normal) and some, I feel, is just normal life progression.
But it occurred to me very clearly the other day, the time has come to turn in a new direction.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I could possibly transition this little slice of the web into where my brain is headed but I just can’t make them connect. I want you to know that I have thought about this every day, many times a day, for a long time now.  I do have something entirely new working its way through my brain, and I’ll check back in with you about that in a bit, but it just feels right to me to leave this here and give myself permission to stop stressing about trying to share details that I’m just not feeling in a sharing mood about.  I am sorry.  And don’t really have a complete understanding in my own head about why this feels right, I just know it does.
That being said, I am working to take a few new pictures of the apartment, including the finished kitchen!!, and plan to participate in an upcoming home tour blog hop with a bunch of other bloggers who also live by the water and are inspired in their home decor by the sea and all of its awesomeness.  It seems like a good way to wrap it all up, for now.  You never know, we may end up back in Key West and completing that renovation or somewhere new with a big ol’ fixer upper on our hands and I’ll need to just dust this baby right off and share with you all of the nitty-gritty details.
Until then, thank you for being a part of this little space with me.  This has been an adventure that I could never have imagined. And a journey that wouldn’t have been nearly as sweet without you by my side.

aruba apartment house tour video – 6 months in

Yay!  The magic of the USB cable has been restored which means there are some great photos now on this handy laptop and available for sharing.  And all kinds of not so great photos.

tile cutting fail

Can you say #tilecuttingfail?!?!?  And then there’s the time I intentionally broke a bunch of tiles into millions of little pieces.

removing tile with a hammer drill

But today, as you read this a smattering of people I don’t know are in our apartment installing our new kitchen cabinets.  (Insert inappropriate number of exclamation points here.)  And I, most likely, am an annoying onlooker chomping at the bit to get my hands in there and start some organizing.

I may have busied myself last week perusing organizational aisles in our home improvement stores dreaming about handy lid dividers and shelf partitions.  Big dreams!!

So let’s distract ourselves with a little peek into what things kind of look like around here these days until I can actually start stacking some plates on shelves. Kind of, because this video was taken on August 2nd. 6 months after we moved in … and almost 2 months ago.

On the up side, that means both of our babies made it in the video.  🙂  On the down side, I still apparently refuse to shower before putting myself on video.  🙁

A few noteworthy points:

  • the guest bedroom looks exactly the same today, except the stove is out of the box and ready to participate in the new era of the kitchen
  • we are in talks with the same company who made our kitchen cabinets to solve our big little hall bathroom issue with a single vanity cabinet and built-in around the fridge which hopefully will be less in your face and more nestled into the corner
  • when describing the current dish washing situation, when I say “luxurious” it is to be interpreted as something that gives me hives
  • I hope you love the new cabinets and shelving in the living room as much as we do, we can’t wait to see that area complete with the built ins below … which will also solve a bit of the mess problem in the guest room with the added storage
  • watching it now I’m glad we have the video evidence of this stage of the project, we have such high hopes for life-after-new-kitchen it will always be a good reminder of what the prehistoric-life-before-new-kitchen was like
  • sorry, as always, for all of the lighting issues … pesky sun  😉
  • 1:51 makes my heart explode



rest in peace my sweet Mico

This was a post I never wanted to write.  And I almost didn’t.  For many reasons I can’t really put my finger on I have been feeling increasingly private of late, hence the lack of posting, but I know that many of you have tuned in over the years as much to see pictures of our girls as you ever did to see the DIY.  And I can’t say as I blame you.  You are clearly very smart people.  🙂

Mico was always excellent at making it easy for me to combine the two into one shot.


Sadly, one week ago our sweet Mico passed away.  We are very thankful that it was quick and as peaceful as possible.  Throughout the night on Tuesday she was panting, more so than normal.  This girl was always so happy and bounding with energy that panting was a pretty constant state of being for her.  We always joked that she was never going to sneak up on anyone, her excitement and enthusiasm always lead her way.  But something was just a little off that night so we decided I would bring her with me to a vet appointment we already had scheduled for Marley first thing Wednesday morning.

Joel helped me load the girls into the car before heading off to work and our sweet baby was gone by the time we arrived.


She truly had a smile on her face until the very end.  She didn’t need a doctor to take any more blood or do any more tests and she took away the need for us to make any heartbreaking decisions about her life. She knew it was her time.

She was a wonderful dog and the best companion to us for over 13 years.  We picked her out when she was just a month old, the only short-hair, all black female in the litter.  She spent some time in the pound before we could bring her home and we always said that gave her a little edge.


She was fiercely loyal to both Joel and I, never wanted to be anywhere but right there with us and anything in the world we wanted to do with her she thought was the Best. Idea. Ever.


Over the years she survived a tumor removal, splenectomy and arthritis, her medication routine had become a process in and of itself.  She was born in Indianapolis, and from the very first night we brought her home, about one year after Marley, she slept in bed with us. Most nights on the pillow above my head (we had an abnormally long mattress), unless it was too cold then she was nestled under the covers.  She could never be too close.  And that was just fine with me.


You completed our pack when you joined our family my sweet Mico.  You instantly gave us spunk and street cred.  I think you loved me more than anything in the whole wide world, yet somehow I know you had a way of making Joel feel the exact same way.  Your love was unconditional and your smile contageous.  You gave us more than we could have ever imagined.  We were lucky to be your humans. Rest peacefully my sweets.



ps.  I’ve posted more than is probably normal about our sweet girls over the years.  To see some of the projects and adorable dog pictures you may have missed check out these early posts.  Here, here, here and here.  And so many more here.  And a scroll through my Instagram feed might just be cute old lady dog overload.

pps.  Marley is doing just fine.  She is 14 and definitely has old lady moments, and I’m pretty sure she’s sick of all of the extra attention, but she continues to nap through the day and enjoy a slow, short stroll in the evening.

diy pet porch potty

I feel like this post has the potential to feel like a kindergarten classroom where all the 5 and 6-year-old boys want to talk about is poop.  Followed by uncontrollable giggling.  Given the topic it can’t be helped.  Because when I posted the video tour of our new place in Aruba (almost 6 months ago now which is really hard to believe) I got a lot of comments, emails and questions about the little mulch areas we created on our balconies for the girls to use as, let’s say, their porch pottyThis definitely isn’t the most glamorous of topics, and won’t be accompanied by the most beautiful photos you’ve ever seen, I can promise you that.  But this one little feature has actually had the biggest impact on the daily happiness of all four of us as we’ve settled into this new abode.

And I know this isn’t an ideal situation for everyone, living on the 5th floor with two large dogs.  And we couldn’t have done this at earlier stages in our girls’ lives. But as they approach 13 and 14 years old they are perfectly content to nap all day, with access to use the facilities whenever they see fit, and then go for a leisurely stroll in the evening.  This is not intended as an exercise area or an attempt at a “dog run” or anything like that.  It is strictly for the business of #1 and #2 for these beauties.


Funny story, I actually bought a porch potty from Amazon before I moved here.  Joel came down for a week and scoped out the living situation and the idea of the pet porch potty was born.  My brother, who travels a lot for work, mentioned there is a porch potty in Sky Mall magazine.  It’s about 2 x 4 feet, so would fit perfectly into the corner of the balcony, it seemed ideal really.

But … have you ever actually observed your animal as they prepare to do their business?  It takes time, and space, and in Marley’s case, a few laps around an area to find just the right spot … which happens to be pretty much the exact same spot every time, but she doesn’t seem to know that.  🙂  We knew before even bothering to put it together that the little 2 x 4 foot porch potty was more a cruel joke to the girls than any sort of functional area for them to do their business.

So, after a misguided attempt with some sand and a few shallow bins (let’s not talk about it) we came up with a simple DIY, and there are so many ways you could finish off your area more than we did to make it pretty-ish.  I didn’t bother with any paint or even an attempt to hide the tarp under the mulch, but it serves its purpose of ease and convenience for the girls and therefore makes it the best DIY we’ve made here in Aruba.

pet porch potty

The entire area is about 14 feet long by 5 feet wide and we’re lucky that we have two different entrances to the same balcony.  The dog door we put at one end goes right out into the mulched area for the girls and we can use the other door when we go out to use the same balcony.  We have a small area rug (one that we inherited with the apartment and is not my favorite) just inside the dog door for the girls to wipe their paws when they come back inside.  I kid.  But it does give some of the mulch that is tracked in a landing zone.

And taking pictures from the inside out of this sunny locale will always challenge me, I can promise you that too, unfortunately.

pet porch potty

As for making one for your own porch or balcony all you need is a tarp a little wider and longer than you want your mulch area to be, getting a grey or brown one (like this option*) will be less noticeable than the typical blue tarp color, and then a couple of pieces of wood.

We used a 2 x 4 cut the exact width of our porch so it is just wedged in for a secure fit and then we used a 1 x 4 to run the length of the porch along the outside edge. We actually lived for about 4 months without that 1 x 4 but the tarp did find its way under our railing in spots so the board provides a nice barrier to prevent fly away mulch to the balconies below us.  Both of these pieces are pressure treated, and would probably look nicer painted white or a color to coordinate with the porch, I imagine.  🙂

pet porch potty

You can see in the photo above that we keep a trash can with a lid outside and pick up poop on a daily basis, bag it tied tight and toss it in the bin.  We’ve lived with this system for about 6 months and we are just now ready to replace some of the mulch with fresh stuff.  For regular maintenance we rake and shovel the mulch to help the areas peed on dry.  And by regular maintenance I mean when we think about it, which should probably be every week or so.  I also have a spray bottle of plain white vinegar that I spray on it every day or so.  White vinegar is supposed to help counteract the natural odor.  I’m not going to lie, 6 months in we have started to notice a little odor, hence the discussion about switching out the mulch, but replacing a few bags of mulch a couple of times a year is a pretty easy job to maintain an area for the old girls.

diy pet porch potty

Thanks for all of the questions about the area, it has seriously made transitioning to apartment living with the girls totally doable. And just to reiterate where I rank in the whole family scheme, Joel just had a work conference and was asked to send along a photo of something he really cared about, this is the photo he sent.  🙂


 *affiliate links included

one board wood shelves + 17 one board ideas

Well hello there!!  It has been awhile.  How are you?  I wish I had some incredible story to share with you about how I’ve spent my time recently, but the most accurate description would be … life.  🙂  We are still loving Aruba, hard to believe we have been here almost 6 months already, and we’ve finally made some official headway on the kitchen renovation project.  The contract is finalized, the cabinets are being made and installation is set for Sept 21st.  It will feel like a long time coming when it is all said and done, for a refresher on what we’ve planned and why it’s taking so long have look back here and here.

But let’s talk today about some pretty simple DIY wood shelves that I made with just one board.  Because when a group of builders who write blogs get together and chat about buildy things we toss around crazy ideas and a bunch of us decided it would be fun to see what we all came up with to make from just one 1 x 8 x 8 board.


Pretty simple requirement, just one board, a standard 1 x 8 that is 8 feet long, any species (meaning a type of wood like pine, poplar, oak, etc).  This little challenge proved to be just another of example how even the simplest things can get confusing if you’re living on a Caribbean island.

board-collageWhat I ended up with was an individually wrapped wood-ish board that measured just about right.  Who says “close enough” only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades?  It definitely also counts in pretty much anything you try to accomplish on a Caribbean island.  Take that label that says “solid wood”.  If by solid they mean pieces-of-wood-manufactured-together-to-make-one-large board then they are correct.  But it serves its purpose and now I have two shelves for toiletries and such in our master bathroom.  So I call this one a win!

diy wood shelves

At the end of this post I have the links to the 16 other projects that my creative friends have come up with using their one board.  They are sure to be more intricate and elaborate than my humble shelves, but sometimes function and practicality win out.  And it’s pretty darn nice to have a few more things at arms reach and off the floor in el bano.

Since I don’t have a work shop and only brought a few tools this little project found me measuring and cutting at the hardware store.  I knew I wanted two shelves about 30″ long so I cut the board into three pieces, 2 @ 30″ plus the remaining piece.

diy wood shelves

Once home I used a speed square and jig saw to measure and cut 4 triangles out of the extra piece of the board.  Use the full width of the “solid board”.  (I’m including the Amazon links to the tools I used for easy shopping.)

diy wood shelves

Now, let’s not judge a girl who DIYs in her LL Bean doggy slippers.  🙂  Oooooh, and you can see that I’ve started to make some progress with some primer and paint.  Hellooooo white!

With the triangles cut I used the square again to measure 2″ triangles to cut out of the long edge of each of them.  I thought this would make a simple yet decorative detail and also provide a flat edge that I could screw through to attach the shelves to the wall.

diy wood shelves

Before I attached the brackets to each shelf I wanted to drill the holes where I would thread my eye bolts through to attach the shelves to the wall.  I used my impact driver and a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of the eye bolts I had bought and a utility knife to cut away any splintering wood.  To make drilling easier I used a new tool I bought on a recent trip to the US, a 90 degree angle clamp.  A standard clamp would work fine if you had a stable, flat work surface, but since I was working on a 5 gallon paint jug (don’t be jealous) the corner clamp actually provided the flat base as well as clamped the piece perfectly vertical for drilling.

diy wood shelves

Here’s where the corner clamp really came in handy.  I attached each triangle bracket to each end of both of the 30″ pieces of the board.  With the triangles and board in the corner clamp 1- run a bead of glue on the edge of the triangle that does not have the whole drilled through it, 2- use a drill bit smaller than the diameter of your screws to drill pilot holes into both the board and the triangles, 2 – use a drill bit larger than the diameter of the head of the screw to drill slightly into the board so the head of your screw can sit flush with the wood or even sunken a little, and 4 – screw through your pre-drilled holes to attach each triangle bracket to the boards.

diy wood shelves

After a day or so to let the glue cure I sanded each shelf and applied a few coats of stain, I have no idea what color, it was all in Dutch.  🙂

To attach them to the wall I used a small allen wrench that fit through my pre-drilled holes to mark on the wall where to drill and install my anchors and then I used a pair of needle nose pliers to screw in each eye bolt.  The eye bolts were actually Joel’s idea, something a little more interesting than just a standard large bolt.

diy wood shelves

And I really love how they turned out.  Simple but totally functional and a great DIY that pretty much anyone can do.

diy wood shelves

I have some plans for some maybe floating style shelves in our master bedroom and maybe even something like a picture ledge/narrow shelf of some kind for our living room.  I admit, it was fun to get the tools out of the moving boxes and get creative with something again, it has been awhile.

diy wood shelves

Now don’t forget to check in with all of my talented friends to see all of the other fun things you could make.  There are a few fun planter options, a plant stand, a couple of completely different stools and more shelf ideas, and no two projects came out the same.  So many great ideas with just one little board!!  And please tell me, what in the world have you been up to lately?  I’d love to know.

Addicted 2 DIYThat’s My LetterPretty Handy GirlFix This Build ThatBuild-BasicMy Love 2 CreateHer ToolbeltMy Altered StateSawdust & EmbryosThe Kim Six FixThe Ugly Duckling HousePneumatic Addict FurnitureDecor AdventuresMerrypadThe House of Wood, Sawdust Girl

breaking news: reports of progress in the aruba apartment

Yeah, uh, sorry.  For everyone who has written me commenting on the lack of posts, thank you.  I am definitely feeling the love.  Sometimes when you write out here on the world-wide web you wonder if anyone would notice if you just slipped quietly into the night to Aruba.  😉

The truth is, I haven’t really done any DIY fun to report.  As of today, the kitchen still looks the same and the walls are still speckled with spackle that I’ve used to patch old holes.  But I have sanded it down so they’re ready for some primer and paint.  So there’s that.

But, I’m just not stressing about it.  We’ve discussed the kitchen project with 7 different companies.  4 of them didn’t even bother to submit quotes. 2 of them keep “forgetting” to provide samples and the final company, who (with whom?) we will most likely work with (proof that just responding to customer requests can get you business) has some insurance hurdles we need to overcome before they can perform any work in our building.

And since every company has their own color selections to choose from for the cabinets and the counter top I didn’t want to commit to a wall color until we had those key details pinned down.

So we wait.  🙂

And we enjoy company who comes to visit.

And explore new things around the island.  All the while gathering driftwood and shells and other random goodness.

But I don’t do anything crafty with them because we are also still waiting on our own things to arrive from the states.  Word on the street is that the container ship arrives this week, but there’s still customs clearance and scheduling the movers to bring everything here.  And blah blah blah.  😉

So I find myself daydreaming about what I will make once my favorite battery operated finish nailer and stapler arrive.  And what fun furniture I can make when the Kreg Jig gets here.  I think something simple to get the tv off the floor is in order.  And I’m envisioning a low, square, wood coffee table, maybe on castors.


(I would apologize for the lighting, but the big ol’ sea and Caribbean sunshine is just so unapologetic.)  😉

And, just because delays are the name of the game these days, I am heading back to the great ol’ US of A for two weeks.  Probably leaving Joel alone to manage the arrival of our things.  Sorry bae!  I will be participating in the American Odyssey Relay with a team of 12 bloggers.  If you check out the link I’m runner #4.  Yes, the one that is running 19.4 miles.  So I’ve been using all of the non-DIYing time to run, and run and run some more in preparation.  🙂

And embracing all that Aruba has to offer.  Like an obstacle course race through town and a 45 mile run around the island with a team of 4 in the middle of the night.


So, I do apologize for anyone who is feeling a bit left in the dark … and I guess I should say “you’re welcome” to anyone who prefers the lesser posting schedule.  😉

Hopefully you’re following along on Instagram, because I do keep up with our daily doings over there.

And seriously, can you believe it is practically May already?!?!?

so, we acquired a table and now I want a diy chandelier

Hey hey!  Hope you’re doing great.  Anything new with you?  We have a new-to-us table.  And it’s pretty great.  When we first arrived I thought I might try my hand at making a farmhouse style dining room table.  Long, rectangular, awesome.  You know the type.  Maybe with chairs on the side by the wall and a bench on the side between the dining room and the living room.

But the more we lived in the space I couldn’t shake the idea of a round table being the right fit.  It would be easy to maneuver around and just seem to aid the flow of traffic from all sides, since the dining room basically connects the kitchen to the living room and the balcony. And the truth is we really only use the table when we have company so we really don’t need the huge table I was imagining (Although I still think a long, wood, farmhouse style table is my dream table!).  But then one day Joel and I were looking through an old warehouse and found this beauty laying on her side all dusty and a little banged up.  And we knew she’d be perfect.


She’s not too big.  She’s wooden.  She has a center tile that has broken shells and sea glass in it.  And she has a few dents and scratches.  She’s perfect.


We also found the wicker chairs we’re using around the table and the 4 red bar stools which I love … just not in red, so those will probably get a makeover after the kitchen project.  Which, so far, has gone as far as us getting a new fridge.  🙂

We’re still negotiating bids with contractors and working through the details of the scope of work.  Island time, you know?!?!

But, ever since we brought in this great table I haven’t been able to shake the idea that a fun DIY chandelier would the perfect pairing.

The table …

round wooden dining room table

… and the current light situation.


Looking past the fact that it’s installed in a weird spot in the room, it is just not our style.  So I started scouring the web for inspiration to find just the right thing. What I’d love is something that doesn’t block a lot of the line of sight from the kitchen out the to the balcony.  Maybe something that I can retrofit from an old chandelier that hopefully I just find somewhere (Of course!).  And we’d love to make it dimmable so I can use my favorite Cree dimmable LED bulbs to set the brightness at just the right level.

So, here are a few DIY chandeliers that have caught my eye.

looking for diy chandelier ideas that won't block an amazing view

Wine Bottle Pendants from DIY Network

diy chandelier - wine bottle pendant

Brass Chandelier from One King’s Lane

diy chandelier - brass

I’ve seen a lot of variations of a knock off of this Restoration Hardware chandelier.

diy chandelier - restoration hardware knock off

This Old Wheel Chandelier from Black Oak Vintage is pretty sweet.

diy chandelier - old wheel

In an ideal world I will happen upon the perfect thing, be it a rusty old wheel or cool old bottles or a dated old fixture I can transform into something we love.  But we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Either way, it will turn into the perfect thing with the help of Cree LED bulbs.

cree light bulbI partnered with Cree for one main reason, they are the best bulb out there.  I know LED bulbs cost more than the traditional incandescent bulbs, but there are so many added benefits to making the switch.  They are available at Home Depot and here’s a short video (less than 1 minute long) that explains the benefits in more detail.  Like up to 85% less energy consumption! (If you’re reading this in email or a reader you will need to click over to the blog to watch.)

So, that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  If you see anything that I can make into a chandelier lying around please give me a shout.  Although I haven’t found anything like that yet, I did rescue this little crate from a dumpster.  I kept the exposure a little dark so you could take in a little peek of the view.  This is where I drink my morning coffee and evening wine.  🙂



the aruba kitchen plan

It took longer than usual because I can’t stop staring at the view, but we’re officially off and running with projects around here.  And it turns out gathering quotes for the kitchen project is a good way to familiarize myself with new streets and neighborhoods and learn that many a dirt road actually leads somewhere good.  🙂

So let’s start by looking at the current kitchen a little more up close and personal, because who doesn’t love an overdose of blue glass tile, proving you really can have too much of a good thing.

coastal kitchen renovation

It’s true, I actually do like the tile, but there is just way too much of it.  And this picture shows you just how much it opens up to the main living space so I really want to make it flow seamlessly from room to room … or area to area, if you will.  And that blue tile is just not screaming cohesiveness.

I’m pretty sure the number one suggestion given by many of you here was to remove the carpet and lay a hard surface throughout.  Welllll, in a different time we would do that for sure.  But I shared some info on flooring here, and pretty much our old lady dogs love the carpet, it’s in good shape, it’s not an offensive color and it’s staying.  Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay, so I also need to work with it when considering kitchen countertops and colors to make sure it all works well together.

coastal kitchen renovation

But, I don’t really want brown to be a main color in our end plan (for obvious reasons, I hope) so I’m trying to find a way to have it all meld … leaning away from yellows and creams and more toward grayish neutrals that work with the brown.  So, we scoured a warehouse that houses left over tile and wood and random stuff from other projects hoping to find some things that might work and here are a couple of things that caught our eye.  I heart little tiles.

kitchen tile backsplash options

The 12″ x 24″ tile is the kitchen floor tile and here’s a closer look at the carpet that is in the main living areas.  (Not terrible, right?!?!)  The two mosaic options or possible backsplash tiles.  Now, I posted a pic of these on social media and every single person likes the one on the right.  With the aqua.  And I love it, too.  But I think I love the one on the left more.  Am I crazy?  It brings in the grays that I am so hoping to shift toward.  It feels a bit more “classy” maybe, or serene.  The one on the right is pretty and fun, but I’m not sure “fun” is the look I’m going for.  Let’s just hope I don’t end up with boring instead.

Would it make sense if I say I’d like to keep the freedom to bring color into the kitchen with accessories and not marry the color in the tile?  So, I’d like to marry my neutral colored tile and only casually date my more colorful accessories?  Making me an accessory slut?  Or maybe a tile monogamist.  (What am I talking about?)

Honestly, a lot of it will depend on what we find for granite.  Options are much more limited, as we’re in the middle of the sea.  And since the backsplash is on the wall that extends into the dining room we’ll have to see how that transition turns out.  I’m debating flanking open shelving with cabinets at the end, which will create a clear division between the kitchen and the dining room.


But I’m considering all upper cabinets and shelving Phase 2.  Mostly because I think I can do it all on my own so it doesn’t have to be part of the bid process for the kitchen remodel.  So let’s stay focused on manhandling this awkwardness for now.


Not only is the cabinet design weird, but we have a microwave hung at random on the wall and a wall oven installed as a range below the counter …


… the cooktop is neither the same size or in the same location as the oven and the dishwasher and sink are installed so close to that back corner all of the storage space below the counter is wasted.

What to do, what to do?  Here’s the thought on what we’re going to tackle for Phase 1.

  • demolition of all wall tile and cabinets (my job)
  • a new range, sink faucet and fridge will be ordered and we will keep the dishwasher as it is almost new and the sink since it is in great shape
  • all new lower cabinets will be installed with a new countertop (someone else’s job)
  • floor tile will be patched by the bar area after the new cabinets (that will be straight across the front) are installed (my job)

Only 4 line items.  Bullet points always make it sound so easy.  Who knows how long it will end up taking.  The first step is shopping around for cabinets and countertops and settling on a layout that works for us.

So here’s what we’ve considered so far, I’ll call this first option the budget plan.  The layout is basically the same as it is now with the stove pushed a little closer to the dishwasher to allow for sets of lower drawers on both sides.  No plumbing or electrical would need to be moved, could totally work, but just doesn’t seem to maximize the space.


Then I got the idea to put the oven and cooktop by the bar which would mean we were facing the view while we cook.  Then the sink could move to the left of the dishwasher and we’d have the traditional kitchen triangle that everyone loves.  The dishwasher would also shift a little away from the corner so we could fit a corner cabinet in there and not lose all of that valuable space.


But, that option requires moving plumbing and water for the sink and electric for the stove and costs extra because the cabinet makers would need to build a special cabinet for the oven and also cut out the granite for the cooktop.  Also, it turns out we have a sprinkler pretty much right above the bar and putting a cooktop right under that isn’t the smartest idea in the world.  More of a lose/lose than a win/win really.  :/

Enter Option #3, which we’re hoping turns out to be the best of all worlds.  Upon further review, turns out I’m not usually at the stove when I’m in the kitchen anyway (my definition of cooking is clearly a little off), so having the prep area face the view is actually best case scenario.  And yes, this is my own hand drawn layout, with my own chicken scratch notes and measurements in inches, feet and centimeters … just to keep you guessing.  🙂


Going from left to right, here is the plan as of right this second, although my mind is known to shift with no advance warning.

  • The post is the one that is currently there and covered in blue tile, the row of cabinets will get pushed back a little so the front of the cabinets will line up with the front of the post and there will be an overhang at counter height for seating facing into the kitchen.
  • The bar counter will be divided into three sections of under counter cabinets/shelving.  The first and third sections will be of equal width and have one open shelf on top of one deep drawer, one open shelf will hold the microwave and the other will hold the toaster oven.
  • The center section will be 3 drawers underneath each other, top one for cutlery.
  • There won’t be a corner cabinet here but there will be a 1 or 2 door cabinet that opens to the dining room with one shelf.
  • Along the wall there will be two sets of deep drawers and the range and dishwasher.  The range will essentially be centered between the sets of drawers.
  • The dishwasher and sink will both be shifted about a foot from the corner so we can fit in a corner cabinet.
  • There will be a 2 door cabinet for the double sink and to the right of the sink (and the left of the fridge) there will be 1 pull door with shelves.
  • That wall will be extended about 1 foot to accommodate moving the sink and adding the extra cabinet.

Right now that wall behind the fridge ends where a little hallway begins and the opening to the hallway is wide enough that we can steal about a foot from it for this new plan.  And what will happen behind that wall and in the little hallway … we’ll call that Phase 3.  Pantry maybe?  Place for me to sit and hide when my measurements prove incorrect and the new kitchen plan doesn’t work?  Let’s hope not.


So, that’s the latest.  We have two bids and are awaiting a third.  Before any of this plan gets put into action, whoever we hire to make the cabinets will come and take their own measurements.  ‘Cause I just can’t be held responsible for that task.  Ever.

I’m setting the over/under line for completion of Phase 1 at 3 months.  And as I type that I think 4, but am hoping for 2.  Have any thoughts on the plan?  Things I should consider?  Change?  Add?

installing a pocket door to the master bedroom

Installing a pocket door.

installing a pocket door

Even though I was able to make the walking into and out of this bedroom easier by installing a pocket door, it did not make this awkward corner any easier to photograph.  So I’m sorry about that.  :/

And I’m sorry about this view from the kitchen side, just goes to show exactly how much more work we still have to do on the house.

installing a pocket door

And a weird photo from just inside the master closet, just because.  The aqua stripe on the door is the same Cascade Green color I used on the master closet and master bathroom doors.  And it actually serves a purpose, but more on that in a bit.

installing a pocket door

One of the things I really love about this pocket door is that it truly rolls along the hardware like buttah.  It is so smooth and quiet. And, other than the final install of the door onto the hardware, when I enlisted the help of my husband, I did this entire project, from framing out the old door opening to installing the new pocket door all by my lonesome.  And although I was really nervous about it at first because it just seemed like one of those projects that could go very wrong very quickly (like anything John Travolta does at award shows lately) it actually went great.  And this door doesn’t mind that I crowd her personal space and touch her chin for inappropriate amounts of time in front of large groups of people.  😉

So let’s start out by saying that if you don’t have your file cabinet beside your washer and dryer and in your kitchen you don’t know what you’re missing.  😉

installing a pocket door

I mean I can file and fold from the same spot if I had four hands.

And who doesn’t love to lift some dumbbells while you’re whipping up dinner?

Me.  I don’t.  I actually haven’t used those dumbbells in years.  They were just waiting to be put in the attic, which is a whole three feet away.  But I needed a ladder to get up there.  But look, the ladder is right there, too.  I have no excuses.

But the real discussion here today is the glorious addition of a pocket door into our master bedroom.  I discussed it when we talked about planning the space and when I shared the new floor plan.  Essentially in that picture above 3 different doorways are necessary (note: the wall to separate the master bedroom from the master closet wasn’t built yet).  One to enter the bedroom, one to enter the closet and one to enter the bathroom.  That’s a lot of clanging doors if we went the traditional route so we settled on three different things and today is all about my very first and very favorite pocket door.

You might remember that wall originally looked like this.

master bedroom before

And then we removed the paneling and the wall that did separate the old bathroom from the master bedroom and were left with this.


We also removed a lot of the lighting causing some funky lamp light photo effects.  🙂

I did a bunch of research at our local home improvement stores and online trying to decide what kind of pocket door system I wanted.  I first had to decide if I just wanted to buy some individual parts and try to piece meal it together or did I want an all-in-one frame and track system.  Even though my ego tells me I could do the piece meal route (what can I say, I like a challenge), the ease and convenience of an all-in-one kit was quite appealing.  And after checking out a bunch of options I settled on one from Johnson Hardware and reached out to them to see if they would provide me with the kit so I could tell you all about the process.  And they kindly obliged, thank you Johnson Hardware!!

installing a pocket door

Don’t let me fool you into thinking I wasn’t still a bit intimidated, one look at their website and you’ll see why.  They offer so many great options that would really fit anyone’s pocket door needs, it’s kind of hard to sort out exactly what I needed.  But thanks to some helpful customer service and a discussion about what I was trying to accomplish I had a pocket door kit on the way to me.

To determine which kit you need you will need to know the size of your door (height, width and thickness) as well as the size of your wall studs, I ended up with the 1500 series.  Imagine these are miniature versions of the entire kit going from floor to door header, I had no idea what I was looking at the first time I saw this picture, but this is exactly what you’re pocket door frame will end up looking like after you install the kit … just taller and wider, unless you’re doing this in a doll house.

installing a pocket door

And thankfully, this is one of those deals where every last piece of anything you need to finish this job (except for the door) is included, with really detailed instructions that walked me right through the whole process.  Even the handy “Do Not Remove Hardware Bag Until Door is Ready to Install” sticker.  This seems simple but it actually took me months to get from one stage to the next while completing a master bathroom remodel and a few other things in between, so if I had removed the bag when I first started, as instinct indicated I should, I may have never located that little bag of hardware ever again.

installing a pocket door

As with many projects, some steps would have been helpful to have a second set of hands around, but I made it work doing this project all on my own and Joel came home from work the day I took the next picture and said “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that”.

When he left the view was that single door and when he returned I had it all opened up and studded in with a new 2 x 4 header.

installing a pocket door

The most time-consuming and physically demanding part was definitely the demo.  And that’s mostly because we have all kinds of weird wood slats attached to our old studs and I had to pry and prod and whip out the sawzall to get it all out.  First things first, when we decided a pocket door was what we wanted we invited our contractor friend over just to be sure doing this wouldn’t harm the structural integrity of the house and he gave us the all clear.

The demo will be a little bit different for everyone, especially if you, too, are working in an old house.  But once you start the actual install of the pocket door kit, the most important part is that the opening is straight from end to end, your studs are plumb from floor to ceiling and your header is installed level.  If you can accomplish this your door will glide along the hardware perfectly.

The kit instructions give great detail about how to determine how large (width and height) to make your new door opening.

installing a pocket door

Check out how out of level our ceiling is compared t0 the new, level, header and pocket door rail.

installing a pocket door

The studs that are included with the kit are wrapped in metal so after you have your beautiful new pocket door all installed you won’t screw into the wall and stud to hang something and accidentally screw right into your beautiful door.  How many pocket doors have you seen with horizontal line scratches in them?  That’s what happened.  These studs will prevent that and I just used a jig saw with a metal blade to cut them to the length I needed.

installing a pocket door

There are holes in the sides of the metal that allow for easy nailing or screwing into place for install.  And the instructions guide you right through where to install them to leave the right size opening for your door.  And the kit comes with metal clips that get screwed into your floor and the metal wrapped wall studs clip right onto them.  It really is as easy as it sounds.

installing a pocket door

Now, with your doorway all framed out it’s time to prep your door for install.  Since I was reusing the door that was already there, and it used to have a deadbolt, I needed to patch the hole after removing it.  I just used a hole saw and cut out a few round pieces of wood from a scrap to start to fill in the hole a bit.  With the door laying on sawhorses I clamped another piece of scrap wood under the door so my little round pieces wouldn’t just fall out the bottom.

prepping an old door to become a pocket door

And then it took a few coats of spackle to fill the rest of the hole and sand it down smooth.

prepping an old door to become a pocket door

Yes, I started to patch both the door knob and the deadbolt holes before realizing I would need to put a pocket door handle in the hole where the door knob was.  Whoops!  Hammer to the rescue.

prepping a pocket door

Then flip the door over and repeat.  And a real carpenter would probably tell you to use wood filler.  But when it’s getting painted anyway does it really matter?  No.  The answer is no.  🙂

And enter the reason why I painted the aqua stripe, because I wanted to keep the one side of the door stained but I had a patched hole on the door.  So I just sanded the entire side of the door and stained it the same color as the floor (Modern Walnut) and painted a vertical stripe to cover the patched hole.  I love the added detail and it was simple fix that let me keep the rest of the door stained.

installing a pocket door

The actual hardware that the door hangs from is also a simple step, there are two rolling tracks that fit right into the pocket door rail you already attached below your header, and then two clips that get screwed directly into the top of the door.  It was the effort of holding up the door and aligning these clips with the rolling tracks that I need my lovely assistant.  But once that step was done I had a complete pocket door.

how to install a pocket door

And a pretty awesome sense of accomplishment, let’s be honest.

how to install a pocket door - a surprisingly easy diy project

It actually turned out that the wall stud to the right of the opening above wasn’t plumb either, so the door, once installed only closed tight at the bottom with about an inch gap opening at the top of the door.  So, before I installed the door trim, I used a few pieces of 1/2″ and 3/4″ scrap wood and drywall to shim out the trim toward the top so the door would close evenly from floor to header.

installing a pocket door

And the kit even come with little bumpers to install on your trim so the door won’t ever rub when it rolls back and forth.

installing a pocket door

AND, speaking of trim.  The trim install was super easy because of the holes left in the metal wrap around the studs.  Just mark where those holes are in your trim board and then you can nail your trim right into those little metal wrapped studs like they’re regular studs.

installing a pocket door

I really can’t speak highly enough of the pocket door hardware kit from Johnson Hardware, and their customer service was quick to reply to my every last question to be sure I ordered just the right kit.

Now, don’t be afraid, go ahead and tackle the pocket door project you’ve been dreaming about.  Because we do all dream about pocket doors.  I know it.  And we don’t want to be stuck with this forever.  🙂

master bedroom before

the aruba apartment – the before house tour

Hey hey!  Did you see the fun post from Tuesday where Joel spilled the beans on what he thinks about all this DIY madness?  His no holds barred take on me.  He’s a keeper.  😉

And for the second week in a row I’ve got a video for you!  Last week it was the little good-bye, for now, to the Key West house and today it’s the first walk through of this apartment in Aruba we now call home.  The before, if you will.  There are screws in the walls that need removing, holes that need patching, laundry that needs washing.  Sorry ’bout that.

And sorry about the lighting at times.  I guess if there’s one down side to having such a bright, sunny view …. but, let’s not start feeling bad for me.  😉

A few things to keep an eye out for:

  • 56 seconds in you see the guest bedroom closet which would be super fun to update down the road with functional storage for crafts and projects.  We’ll see if we get that far during our time here.  🙂
  • 1:16 – We added the carpet runners along the tile in the hallways and in our bedroom.  We know they don’t look awesome.  We know they’re not for everyone.  They’re for Mico.  And that’s all that matters.  That old gal isn’t as steady on her feet these days and we’ll do anything to make this place work for her, too.  So they will stay.  And we will love them.  🙂
  • 1:30 – I would love to add shelving, maybe even build in the washer and dryer and create a lot of storage.  It’s great having an actual laundry room, even if it doubles as a half bath, but functional storage would make it even better.
  • 1:50 – One of my first projects will be painting all of the dark baseboards white and patching all of the holes in the walls and prepping for painting.
  • 2:04 – The furniture is all hand me down, collected and gathered and it will definitely evolve over time with the look of the apartment.
  • 2:10 – One of the most exciting changes we’re moving ahead with on an immediate status is moving the tv.  It seems so silly to sit on a sofa facing away from the view.  Right?!?!  So we’re having someone run the wires and cables through the ceiling and putting the tv right in front of the windows.  It will not only orient the whole room facing the true focal point, the view, but it will eliminate any glare on the tv.  And down the line we’re thinking about built ins on the wall where the tv is now.  Closed doors along the bottom for storage and maybe floating shelves up top.
  • 2:19 – THE.  VIEW.
  • 2:47 – I do still take the girls for walks but we didn’t want them thinking they needed to wait around for us to take them out to go so we created two different mulch areas on our balconies and we’re thrilled the girls warmed up to them.  Our highlights and low lights from our first week may have mainly revolved around the bodily functions of our girls.  Just looking out for our old ladies.  🙂  (And as a side note, we have had no trouble with odor.  We bag and put the #2 in a closed lid trash can immediately and the #1 dries pretty quickly.  We did notice a few black flies around so we started spraying straight white vinegar around the mulch area and we have no complaints about turning part of our balcony into a bathroom for the girls.) 
  • 3:30 – “so much commented on” … “grammar not me thing”
  • 5:40 – The first views of the bathrooms, they are in great shape and we have no plans to really change anything other than adding a second towel bar in the master bath.

I hope you enjoy!  I’d love to hear all your thoughts on what you would do to update it!!  (If you’re reading this in email or in a reader you will have to click over to the blog to see the video.)



key west house tour – move out day

I’ll tell you it was kind of weird to watch this video.  Time is such a funny thing.  We’ve been in Aruba for less than three weeks and already it is home.  I think that could be why we can continue to do this whole let’s-pack-up-and-move-somewhere-we’ve-never-been-every-few-years thing with some level of success. We somehow focus on and find true enjoyment in the challenge of everything being new and we put every ounce of energy we can into making where we are now home.  And it works.  Kind of a good psychological study on the power of choice.  But this isn’t a psychology blog … as far as you know.  😉

So looking at this video reminded me that, somehow, someway, this little Key West gem is also our home.  Maybe left behind, for now, but definitely not forgotten … and still very near and dear.  And seriously, what a bummer we didn’t get to finish it before we left.  #UnfinishedBusiness

And thanks to all of your requests I took one final walk through to record exactly how we left her.  And here are a few noteworthy points in the video:

  • 42 seconds in you can hear our sweet neighbor’s nice words about the transformation we made to the place, Joel was literally packing up the car to head to the airport while I was making this video
  • 1:02 – that’s the sound of Joel coming in our front gate, when it came on the video the girls perked up and stared at the front door here.  I kind of love they still recognize the sound, it was sound of us coming home to them.  🙂
  • 1:46 – pink. tile. overload.
  • 1:58 – my camera battery died so sorry for the jump from the bathroom to the kitchen
  • 2:11 – I dare anyone to show me an uglier kitchen wall
  • 4:00 – I painted the aqua stripe on the stained door to cover up the hole I patched where the dead bolt used to be.  Because who needs a dead bolt on their bedroom door?  And I really wanted to keep that side of the door stained.
  • 4:32 – LED strip lighting tutorial coming soon, it is seriously so cool … and easy.
  • 5:00 – more info on the wood slat walls here
  • 5:13 – more info on the tile we used in the bathroom and closet here
  • 6:50 – I can’t believe I didn’t show the bathroom door on the way out, that wall with Curacao landscape above it on reclaimed wood is one of my faves in that house.
  • 7:15 – the first video views of the outside of that cute little cottage, and yes, the exterior painters came and finished, with more beautiful light blue like we did on the underside of the roof of the front porch

Enjoy the video!  (If you’re reading this in your email or a reader you will have to click over to the blog to see the video, sorry.)


upcycling idea – reclaimed french doors on rolling door hardware

With only hours to go until our flight to our new home in Aruba I ran around our house, if you ask Joel like a mad woman, with the camera to snap as many pics as possible of one of my longest awaited and most adored updates we made to this sweet little Key West home.  Upcycling Idea – Reclaimed French Doors on Rolling Door Hardware.

upcycling idea reclaimed french doors

It’s funny how things actually happen during a renovation.  And it’s funny to be able to write about it and make it seem like everything works in perfect order and things just happen like magic in natural succession.

But, the truth is I found these old french doors in a dumpster (Literally!  In a large dumpster at a home remodel site in our neighborhood.  Whoever considers these garbage needs a brain re-calibration.  In my opinion, of course.) and not a single pane of glass was broken.  So awesome, right?!?!

But that was pretty much right after we moved in.  I didn’t need a pair of exterior french doors.  But I couldn’t pass them up so they became the thing that was shuffled around as we continued to get settled in.  They were always in the way, but I just couldn’t let them go.  I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’m basically saying that hoarding is acceptable.

Ok, maybe not.  But cut yourself some slack about your always-in-the-way-but-not-prepared-to-get-rid-of items.  It happens to the best of us.  🙂

And looky where I ended up using the free beauties.

upcycling idea reclaimed french doors

It was actually the original color of these french doors (Yes, I found french doors without any broken glass and painted in a beautiful aqua!) that inspired the color I painted the master bathroom door on the rolling door hardware.  And I love it so much I painted these doors the same color.  It’s Behr Marquee, Eggshell sheen, Cascade Green.  The ceiling color is very similar but is not exactly the same, my custom-ceiling-color-saga is here.

Granted, the doors don’t really provide any privacy, if you needed that you could use a spray frost, but we figure we’ll just shut the door to the bedroom, which is just to the right of the closet doors.

upcycling idea reclaimed french doors

Yeah, we need to take care of that kitchen one of these days.  Just don’t look down …or up for that matter.  🙂

I just love the way the rolling door hardware looks and it’s a bonus that it helped me get rid of one more swinging door (in addition to the master bathroom door we installed on rolling door hardware) and makes this little corner where you enter the master bedroom a little less “there are doors swinging everywhere“.  Say that with your arms flapping about and you’ll have a good visual.  🙂

You can find all of the step-by-step installation details for the rolling door hardware here.  And I used the same process for this set even though I have two doors, you can order the hardware so it has an extra set of door plates for the additional door.  My sets are both from Rolling Door Designs and are the Bronze Plato Hanger.  A huge thank you to Rolling Door Designs for providing me with both sets of the hardware.

upcycling idea reclaimed french doors

Now only one more door to wrangle in this ménage à trois of doors.

Remember what this area of the master looked like when we moved in?  Me either.  Let’s look back.

master bedroom before

I reused that 5 panel master bedroom door and we moved the wall on the left a little and added the angled wall that now has the French doors on rolling door hardware as a focal point with the entrance to the master bathroom inside the unfinished master closet.

upcycling idea reclaimed french doors

Tell me, do you love this rolling door hardware look as much as I do?  I think it’s a great way to add a little interesting detail with something that serves a functional purpose at the same time.

And for a little “current status” update, we’re doing great!  My focus is making sure this place feels like home to the girls.  It’s new and different and one day soon it will feel like the same old, same old.  That’s always the goal.

We were lucky when we flew here that our seats were right over the baggage conveyor belt and I took a short video of them loading the girls on the plane.  The woman in the seat in front of me struck up a conversation about them before she knew they were ours.  🙂

*post contains affiliate links

our aruban apartment – the before

Well, if things are going as planned we’ve been in Aruba a few days and we’re still settling into the groove of things and getting used to calling a new place home. But, look what I did for you.  After Joel first saw the apartment, when I was still in Key West, he texted me these grainy cell phone pics and I want to share this first view with you!  These are the first I’ve seen of this new place we’ll be calling home.  So many questions, so much potential, so many unanswered questions.

But I’m going to let you do what I did … just stare at the pictures and dream about what you would do to update the space.

Main Living Area


I love those lamps, this is essentially one large living space where the far end will serve as a dining room that opens into the kitchen behind it, the center section will be living room and the near section is a bit of a hallway that opens into the space so maybe room for a desk and maybe a wall shelf unit or some large art?


View From Main Living Area




I replied to Joel “The kitchen is funny … in the bad kind of funny way.”  But there’s a dishwasher, and this girl who hasn’t had one for the last 6 is looking at the bright side.  🙂




Second Bedroom





Laundry Room






So, uh, I see some projects in there.  Like everything but the view.  🙂

And here’s the deal.  This place is owned by my husband’s employer and they know it needs updating and it’s actually cheaper for them to give us a budget for upgrades and furniture than it is for them to pay to ship all of our own things down there.  Crazy, right?!?!

Crazy exciting as I have a million different ideas running through my head.  Ideas that keep me awake at night and get me more and more excited to just get there already.  And, if  you’re reading this, I am down there and will check in soon.

But let’s hear what you would do.  Assume anything can change and the budget is unlimited.  Neither is true, I actually have no idea what the budget is yet and I don’t know if things like flooring and curtains can be replaced or plumbing can be moved.  Did you see that weird kitchen corner where the dishwasher is under the cook top?

Tell me what ideas immediately pop into your head.  What would you change first?  What doesn’t really seem so bad?  Other than the view.


And if you want to see what’s been catching my eye follow my new Pinterest board, for Aruba.

pine cone and mini ornament garland

Well, that title doesn’t really leave much to the imagination, does it?

pine cone and mini ornament garland

And the pictures don’t really do it justice.  But it is actually super cute.  You’re just going to have to trust me.  🙂

I had a little package of mini ornaments that I used to make super easy wine charms (you should check them out here) and with the leftovers, a few scented pine cones and the help of a hot glue gun and jute twine … a garland was born.

pine cone and mini ornament garland

I don’t know about you but I never really “got” garland.  I never felt inspired to make one and didn’t really understand the craze.  But for some reason this year it seems to be just the right thing to make it feel festive around here.  It’s kind of like a necklace for your house.  So our house if officially all dressed up and ready for the company holiday party.  🙂

pine cone and mini ornament garland

I got the wooden rack back in the day from my mom.  I’ve used it to drape fabric scraps on and hang herbs to dry.  I love the look of it so I’ve propped it up on the table that is just inside our front door and the garland just adds a bit whimsy.

Those glittery trees are from Ross, total impulse buys, but I think they were $3 and $6.  Considering that all of the other supplies I had on hand and left over from other projects I don’t mind a little investment in a little glitter.  But I bet they’d be super easy to make, create a cone shape maybe with a thick piece of paper (like a cereal box maybe) and then cover it in glue and glitter.  Or just buy them.  🙂

pine cone and mini ornament garland

And hang a garland behind them.  🙂

So, are you all decorated yet?  Not doing anything but a tree?  Ba humbug about the whole deal?

For more ideas you should definitely check out all of the great ways to use what you have to create a few festive holiday things here.  And remember the ornament tree on driftwood I made last year for this same entry table?  I love that tree.

free diy gift tag upcycle idea

Free diy gift tag upcycle idea.

And so easy it’s shameful.

And free, so it’s awesome.

Take last year’s holiday cards, minus any photo cards, sentimental cards you want to keep and inappropriate cards from your crazy uncle.  Just me?

Grab a pair of scissors, a single hole punch if you’ve got one (I saw them at our Dollar Store recently) and some twine or ribbon.

greeting card gift tags

Cut around the pretty images and words on each card.  Nasty old scissors are not a requirement.  I think that’s a bit of thinset from the bathroom tiling project mixed with some floor stain … I may have run out of cotton rags mid-stain and needed to cut up another t-shirt.  #AlwaysPrepared…Enough-ish  🙂

greeting card gift tags

Punch a hole in each tag and tie some twine or ribbon through the hole and onto the ribbon on your package.  Or tape the twine to the package.  Or tape the tag to the package.

You get the idea.  🙂

greeting card gift tags

How’s that for another “use what you have” idea.  So far we’ve made a pallet wood garland and a canvas table runner.  Everything has been simple and free, that’s my kind of holiday decor.  🙂

this is such a great idea for free gift tags every year

I’ve had so much fun making new things with stuff we had hanging around that I gathered a group of some of my favorite bloggers and I said “Hey, why don’t you do something awesome for the holidays with stuff you already have and we’ll share all the great ideas with our readers.”  So, if you haven’t been to Jessica’s yet you should get started over at Decor Adventures and from here be sure to visit Jaime at That’s My Letter.  She always makes great stuff and is a whiz with power tools. She’s one of those girls I would love to hang out with and build something.

That might sound weird.  But it shouldn’t.  Promise.

15 great last minute holiday ideas, so many fun ideas using what you probably already have in your stash

DIY grain sack table runner

I guess it must have started with the pallet wood garland but now I am totally on a roll of just using what I have to create some fun new holiday things.

DIY grain sack table runner

So I bought a canvas drop cloth … 4 years ago … when we were living on a totally different island.

Raise your hand if you remember these couches.


Can’t say I miss them at all.  🙂  And I was going to make a drop cloth slip cover for them once upon a time.  I was going to paint them, too, but that’s another story entirely.  🙂

So, I’ve been carting around a few drop clothes just because.  And I don’t need a table runner.  But it seemed like a super simple way to add a little holiday color and not really feel decorated.

You know, we’re going for that low-maintenance-it-doesn’t-really-look-decorated-but-it-looks-kinda-put-together look around here.  Sometimes it actually works.  🙂

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

BTW, I just snagged those tree candle holders at the thrift store for a few bucks.  I think they’re so cute!

For the table runner I didn’t measure a thing, because that would have just mixed me up.  And all you need is some canvas, scissors, craft paint, paint brush and painter’s tape.

All you have to do to get the cool fringed edge look is start a little cut and then rip the canvas and pull the loose threads off.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

I hardly used any of the drop cloth, if we were hosting a dinner party I would use the same technique to make placements and maybe even matching napkins.  Not that we need those either, but this was a fun little project … if you like this sort of thing.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

With all four sides ripped and fringed I laid it out on the table and even like it without any stripes.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

In total my runner is probably about 18″ wide and too long, it hangs down about 20″ at each end of the table.  But I couldn’t be bothered to shorten it.  🙂

For the stripes I just used the width of the painter’s tape to eye-ball a few stripes, one thick one flanked by two super slim stripes.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

I mixed red and brown paint with a little water … the hope was more of a maroon color that looked like threading and not solid paint.  Adding water makes it easier to apply and gives it a bit of imperfection.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

Paint over the edge fringe to give it the look of thread.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

And that’s it.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

The centerpiece is a simple galvanized tray with one large cloche covering baubles and a ribbon with red potpourri filling the rest of the tray.  A few stray pine cones (cinnamon scented) and one lone ornament I found at the thrift store found their way onto the runner and never found their way off.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

The poinsettia wasn’t bought to go there, but it kinda works.

So that’s pretty much the story of how I stumbled into making a DIY grain sack table runner even though we didn’t need one.

DIY grain sack table runner with a canvas drop cloth

How about you, using anything you already have to make something you don’t really need just because you think it’s fun?  I sure hope so.  🙂

pallet wood garland

Hey there!  I hope you had a great holiday weekend.  If you haven’t seen the great comments on the last post and you’re an animal lover, you really should take a second to read them.  So cool that you guys shared your own stories, thank you for that!  You can read them here.

Sometimes I carry around an idea for a project for a long time and it just never comes together.  But something else entirely comes together and it all works out. Like what happened with my new pallet wood garland.

pallet wood garland

I had been keeping an eye out for fallen branches in hopes of making a wood slice garland for our board and batten wall.  I have some simple, festive decor up there and think a swag of some kind would add a little whimsy.  At 3 1/2″ wide I don’t really have a lot of “mantel” space to work with up there.

christmas mantel 2014

But, after weeks of not finding a good branch to cut into wood slices (I imagine it would be pretty easy with a miter saw) I thought little pallet wood slices could work just as well.

I needed less than two full pallet slats for this, so this is a great project for cracked and damaged slats, no perfection needed here.

pallet wood garland

Each slice is about 2 1/2″ wide, but definitely not exact.  I actually sanded the pallet slats before I cut them with my miter saw because I find it easier to sand larger pieces.  Then after each piece was cut I sanded over the edges just to remove any splintering wood.

pallet wood garland

Sorry for the late-night-crafting photos.  But aren’t my slippers cute?  My mom got them for me last year for Christmas from LL Bean.  🙂 #IHeartMaine

Now just drill two holes in the top of each slice for hanging with a drill bit just big enough to fit the twine through.

pallet wood garland

The lettering is just hand drawn, but you could use a stencil.

pallet wood garland

I used paint pens for the letters, gold metallic for the inside and then a quick outline in white, again … good and imperfect.

pallet wood garland

Since this turned into another little pallet project I tried it on our little pallet slat tree that welcomes our guests on our porch.  Gah.

pallet wood garland

Seriously, is there a cuter dog? better decoration for a pallet slat tree than a pallet slice garland.  I’m gonna go with no on that.

To add the jute twine, just run it through the holes tying knots (black arrows) every now and again.  Wrapping a bit of painter’s tape (white arrow) around the end of the twine will prevent it from fraying along the way.

pallet wood garland

And, no joke, the very next day our neighbors had tree trimmers at their house cutting down dozens of limbs from their huge Mahogany tree.  Maybe for next year.  🙂

pallet wood garland

And just to prove I haven’t killed the poinsettia yet … and neither has the newspaper delivery person.  🙂

pallet wood garland

You can check out our other Christmas craft ideas, 11 homemade ornament ideas and 10 DIY gift ideas.


inexpensive DIY wood slat walls

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!  I can say, that my holiday spirit is still fully intact.  I’m not so sure about our newspaper delivery person, though, as my poor poinsettia on the porch is the perfect landing spot for the paper.  :/

Joel says I’m going to kill it anyway so maybe they’re just doing me a favor.  🙂  He thinks he’s funny.

But, before we move ahead to full on Christmas around here I wanted to give you the low down on the DIY wood slat walls we installed in the master bedroom.

wood slat walls

Some people might think we’re crazy, adding even more wood to this house.  We have wood floors throughout, and wood slat walls that are original to the house on maybe 1/3 of the walls.  But we just love the look and wanted to add a little architectural detail to our otherwise basic master bedroom.

We wanted the look to add a bit of a cottage feel, but we also wanted it to be subtle and not overpowering to the room.

wood slat walls

How’s that for a beauty shot?  😉

This room is not very large and has a funny angled wall that encloses the master closet and bathroom. We put the wall there, so I’m definitely not complaining about it.  But I think adding the wood slat walls (and the lighted picture nooks, which we’ll talk about soon) might help draw attention away from the room itself and toward some of the more fun details.

Based on the new wall placement between the closet and the bedroom the windows on that wall weren’t centered so I just hung four white curtain panels along the whole wall to camouflage the off-center windows.

master bedroom bed

Knowing that wall would end up covered anyway, we went ahead and drywalled that wall and the other exterior wall facing the back of the house, so we were left with 3 walls to slat with wood.

So … I built a wall or two.

wood slat walls

I’ve talked a little bit about building here, and I kind of think it makes everyone’s eyes glaze over so no details here.  But shout if you want to.  I went ahead and added the extra studs in between the regular studs purely for the wood slat walls, we didn’t want the plywood to warp over time so we felt the studs closer together were a good idea.  Actually, that was all Joel.  Well … idea conception = Joel, idea implementation = Karah.  And so it goes.  🙂

For the wood slats I turned to a plywood product I know and love called Purebond.  I used 3/4″ Purebond Plywood to make the closet in the guest bedroom and the guest bedroom bed frame.  I used 1/4″ think plywood for the wood slat walls and since they are so light weight they were really easy to work with.  I had the guys at The Home Depot rip each 4 x 8 foot sheet of Purebond down to 12″ strips (each 8 feet long) and then once home Joel and I ran them through our table saw and cut them just under 4″ wide.

What I really love about Purebond is that it is made in the USA and is 100% formaldehyde-free.  It’s a hardwood plywood so it makes for a great economical choice when you want the look of wood, but need to watch the wallet.


With the wood slat walls, I knew I wanted to paint them white so “the look” of wood was really what I was going for.  And I’ll say it again, I love how easy the 1/4″ thickness was to work with.  After the cutting I literally did this entire project along.

I started with a light sanding of the edges of each strip of wood, just to remove any splinters.

wood slat walls

Then I just started at the floor and since the weird angled wall was going to be the trickiest part I just decided to start there by lining up the ends of the first two pieces.

wood slat walls

Turned out that it was easier to line up the corner with a thin shim behind one of the wall studs so I just used an extra piece of the 1/4″ plywood and nailed the slats right to the shim and into the stud at that corner.

wood slat walls

The second row is really the most important because it will be the first one seen above the baseboard so I leveled that row of slats before nailing them in … the Ryobi Airstrike worked great for this project, I bet their new stapler would work great, too. (affiliate links)

wood slat walls

That gap between the slats ends up hidden by our chunky baseboard, and from here it was really just a matter of cutting to size and layering the slats, nailing them directly into the studs.  The two walls that enclose the closet are less than 8 feet long so each row is a full slat.  And as for spacing, I started by using a penny to space the rows apart, and then I started forgetting about the penny and just eyeballing the tiniest of gaps between the slats.  We like how it has a bit of an inconsistent feel to the spacing, not too perfect.  Or perfect at all really.  🙂

wood slat wallsOn the other, longer wall, I just staggered where the slats meet up in each row so it didn’t look too perfect.  This turned out to be a great little late-night-let’s-get-caught-up-on-some-of-my-favorite-shows-project.

wood slat walls

I also just used scraps of the plywood for the first row, because you want to add the 1/4″ thickness to the wall so the baseboard has a flat surface to adhere to, but it doesn’t have to look nice since it’s just going to get covered up.

And using those scraps kept this project to 7 full sheets of the Purebond, so about $210 for the three walls of the room.  That’s cheaper than wallpaper and so much easier than stenciling.  And I didn’t cry about not having to tape, mud and sand those three walls, that is for sure.  🙂

I did put three coats of primer on them just to try to get as crisp white a finish as possible.  And by “I” I totally mean “my cousin and I”, because you know that room and board is not free around here.  🙂  While she was visiting I used her for free labor had her go over the walls with a roller while I went along each seam with a brush.

wood slat walls

And like most projects, it really takes the finishing touches like the trim and some caulk to make the look really come together.  I used a shoe molding called quarter round where the wood slat walls met at a corner with a drywalled wall used a piece of lattice along the weird corner where the two wood slat walls met. After after we refinished the wood floors we finished it all off by installing molding and baseboards like we’ve done throughout the house. (Details can be found here and here.)

wood slat walls

I like that it adds a bit of texture and dimension but is really subtle, it almost catches you by surprise once you notice it.

wood slat walls

There’s still a lot to do in here in terms of decorating, I’m toying with the idea of a gallery wall of mostly black and white pictures on the long wall.  We’ll see how that turns out, but considering where we started in here I still let out a bit of a sigh of relief when I come around the corner to see how the room looks now … and not how it looked then.

master bedroom before

It’s like a Christmas, or Thanksgiving,  miracle.  🙂

and then we started living like grown ups again

We did it!  After 2 years, 4 months and 14 days … we don’t sleep on the floor anymore!

master bedroom bed

Side note:  For everyone asking about cleaning the new ceiling fan, I’ve officially done it.  Once the bed frame was all assembled I took a feather duster type of thing to the paddles on the ceiling fan and it worked great.  We sanded down the floors after we installed the fan, poor planning, I know, so it had gotten pretty dirty pretty quickly.  I dusted it all off  and then swept up the floor before we brought the mattress in.  The plan is to try to remember to clean the fan when I wash the sheets because I vacuum our mattress (Is that weird?) so I can dust the fan, let the dust settle and vacuum/sweep it up from there.  We’ll see how it goes.

We did have a luxurious little stint of sleeping in our guest bedroom bed while we had the master all tore up, but there is something magical about settling into our very own room … with a bed.

The bed frame we’ve actually had for a long time.  I would say we bought the headboard probably 14 years ago when we were living in Carmel, CA, and I’m pretty sure we bought it from … you know, back in the day when all of the urls were short and sweet like that.  Who knows if the same people even own that url now.  But then in a stroke of luck a few years later, on clearance at a Pier 1 in Indianapolis, IN we saw the matching foot board and bought it.  The side rails are 2 x 6s that I just kind of Jerry rigged together back in the day.  All of the pieces have just been hanging around here getting in the way waiting for their time to shine since we moved down.

master bedroom bed

I was just going to toss it back together and get it into the room as is, so I can move ahead with the “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” theme that is in my brain.  But it turns out Joel wasn’t real fond of that strategy.  So I put out a call for help on Instagram and Facebook to see what people thought we should do to update the look.  I was torn between paint or stain and there were some really fun ideas tossed around like a paint/stain stripe combo and even upholstering the center part of the headboard.

I think where I was getting hung up was that I had an aqua color in my head, because we have a lot of shades of that color lying around left over from the bathroom door and the bedroom ceiling.  But with a lot of encouragement from everyone it was easy to settle on a whitewashed/driftwoody look.

master bedroom bed

I am the sloppiest, laziest, least perfect white washer I know.  I literally just put some water in a tupperware container, slap some paint on the piece and then follow with a water-soaked brush (the same paint brush, of course) to first create an almost grayish coat (even though I’m using white paint) all over.

master bedroom bed

By the time I’m done with the piece it is pretty much dry so then I just dab the very tip of the paint brush in the white paint and create a little bit of a second layer of streaky paint.  You really can’t do it wrong.

master bedroom bed

And it took it from the “I should be in a mountain lodge” look it had to the “I belong here in a beach house” vibe we’re going for around here.  And it didn’t cost a penny since I reused the same old 2 x 6s for the side rails and used semi-gloss white paint we already had (we use off-the-shelf Behr White for all of our trim in the house).

As for the bed frame assembly I followed the same steps I took when I made the wood bed frame for the guest bedroom.  But I mostly avoided all of these things this time around.  🙂

It would have been helpful to have an extra set of hands for this part, but since I didn’t I attached the side rails on one side to the headboard and foot board through pocket holes I drilled with a Kreg Jig and then used wood scraps to prop up the mattress support part of the frame to my desired height and got that all in place.

master bedroom bed

When I attached the side rails to the other side, one pocket hole at each end was blocked by the 2 x 4 frame, so if you have an extra set of hands you may want to attach all side rails first and then slide the mattress support piece into place.

I used 2 1/2″ screws for everything and the mattress support is secured to the headboard, foot board and all along both side rails.

master bedroom bed

Any complaints about my lack of appropriate work shoes can be directed to Olivia Pope, she is handling all of my scandalous behavior these days.  😉

I’m busy feeling like a grown up in our master bedroom.

master bedroom bed

I don’t think the night stands are right, but they’re what we have so I’m not worried about it.  Maybe they’ll get painted, or revamped, or replaced with some awesome street find.  But for now they work just great.

And Joel’s only complaint about sleeping in the guest bedroom (he never had one complaint about sleeping on a mattress on the floor for over 2 years, mind you) was that he didn’t have a nightstand.  I’m pretty sure he could care less about the fact that the shade of white doesn’t really go with the shade of white on the newly revamped bed frame.  🙂

But I kinda like how they help camouflage the fact that our curtains are a good 8 inches too short.  So project lengthen-the-curtains might have just plummeted down the priority list as well.  🙂

‘Cause hey, Christmas is coming, and there isn’t anything I can do to stop it.

does this ceiling fan make my room look big?

Hey there!  We’re chugging along in the master bedroom and we’re thisclose to moving back into that room for good.

master bedroom headboard

Don’t worry that the curtains are too short and there isn’t even a bed to go along with the headboard. The fact that it even resembles a room, where people might actually find solace at the end of the day, is a feat in itself.  🙂

I realized the other day that this will be the first time since we’ve lived here, almost 20 months, that we’ll be living in every room of the house at the same time. They won’t all be finished, but they will all be functional, and for a 1300 square foot house that feels like a bit of a luxury.

Getting to this point in our master bedroom is actually a month in the making.  Right as we were finishing things up in the master bathroom we were also prepping for a load of family visitors and needed the use of both bedrooms.  And the master was looking like this.  #NotSoCozy

master bedroom

And even though we just finished refinishing the floors (we used the exact same process that we did here), as we do with most rooms, we started with the ceiling and worked our way down.  And, for the first time, I painted the ceiling a color and all of the walls white.  #ImGettingDaring

master bedroom ceiling

The ceiling color is actually a custom color.  I first got Behr Marquee paint mixed in Misty Isle and then I decided it was just a bit too bright for what I wanted and what I really wanted was closer to their Breezeway color.  So I headed on in to my local HD and batted my paint splattered eye lashes at the nice man behind the paint counter who then proceeded to spend the better part of an hour tinting and mixing and getting the color to my liking.  I really can’t thank him enough.

But this isn’t really about my indecisive paint decisions, it’s about this awesome ceiling fan and light.  And how cool I think it looks with the colored ceiling backdrop.

I can’t really express how much I adore it.  It was a splurge at about $250 but I was having a really hard time finding something I really liked.  And I really liked this one.  So I bought it.  Here’s an affiliate link to the same fan.

 master bedroom ceiling fanThe paddles are made of canvas with light wood accents and the base is wrapped in rope.  I mean perfect, right, for a coastal/nautical/beachy vibe. The light housing looks like something you would find on a boat or dock and it takes a regular, medium base, bulb … which I love.  So I used one of my new Cree bulbs.

cree light bulb

I used Cree bulbs in our bathroom, too, and love that they are LED, mercury free and shine bright instantly!  And since they actually look like bulbs they are perfect for those glass globe fixtures.

master bathroom vanity area

But here’s the thing about the fan that had me wondering if it was going to be totally wrong for our room … it is 68″.  Which is huge!  It says right in the specs that it is meant for a “great room” at least 20′ x 20′ big … and our bedroom is basically 13′ x 13′ … so pretty tiny.  I worried the fan was just going to look really out of scale, but for some reason it doesn’t.

Maybe because we love the look of it so much that the size of it just works.  I don’t know, and maybe it seems big to some of you, and we’re just in denial because we love it.  But it just feels like it works.

master bedroom ceiling fan on

It may seem like just one small step but the lighting can really make or break the look and feel of a room. Since we’re in the Florida Keys we aren’t willing to give up our beloved ceiling fans, but I’m glad we didn’t have to sacrifice a little style in the process.

And no more sacrificing perfect light when you transition to LED.  The Cree bulbs light up instantly and they now come in a plastic version to avoid breakage, perfect for the bulb that can last up to 20 years. You can find out more here and they are available at The Home Depot.

We should be ready to settle into this room next week, there’s just a few more finishing touches … and a mattress would be nice.  🙂

And today I’m at my friend Julia’s sharing a bit of our story about Living Pretty With Pets, check it out here.

But check this out, Cree is hosting a Bulb Swap, here are the details so you can start your transition to LED, too.




Haven’t switched to LED bulbs? Now’s the perfect time as days are shorter and getting darker earlier. Americans can participate in the Cree Great American Bulb Swap. Just bring in any CFL or incandescent bulb and trade it for a New Cree® LED Bulb for free. The New Cree LED Bulb is up to 85 percent more energy efficient compared to energy-hogging incandescent bulbs – and it pays for itself in a year or less!

Forget the frustration and inconvenience of constantly changing burnt out bulbs– Cree LED Bulbs last up to 22 years (that’s potentially 5 presidents from now!). Just imagine all the money you’ll save on energy bills and fewer replacement bulbs. Cree LED Bulbs are also mercury-free and provide superior light quality, unlike those squiggly compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.

South Street Seaport Pier | New York, NY
11:00 AM- 2:00 PM, Friday, November 14th
10:00 AM- 4:00 PM, Saturday-Sunday, November 15-16th

Readers Park in Downtown Crossing | Boston, MA
11:00 AM- 2:00 PM, Friday, November 21st
10:00 AM- 4:00 PM, Saturday-Sunday, November 22nd and 23rd

Eastern Market | Washington DC
11:00 AM- 2:00 PM, Friday, December 5th
10:00 AM- 4:00 PM, Saturday-Sunday, December 6th-7th

**I first contacted Cree after hearing about their revolutionary bulbs, I am now a paid Cree Ambassador and happy to help spread the good word about their great products, all opinions are 100% my own.  You can read my full disclosure here.**

do you feel it too?

You guys!  I really can’t explain it.  But I am totally pumped for the holiday season this year.  I think it hits me different every year.  Does that happen to you? Some years the holidays just seem to come and go as pretty regular days, and then some years, like this year, I am just so into the spirit of the season I kind of don’t know what to do with myself.


Maybe it’s because the last two years we haven’t really been able to embrace it fully in our house.  Do you remember 2012?  That year we found out on December 15th that we would be moving, off a Caribbean island to somewhere we still didn’t know.  You can read a little about the unexpected here and walking away (in full darkness) from our experience living on Curacao here.

Buh bye quirky little island rental house.

kaya boyo

 And then last year, well, our house was barely even livable and when you’re working on creating actual, functioning living spaces its kind of hard to be all “fa la la la la”, if youknowwhatImean.  Looking back, we were just bringing the first bit of furniture into the living room on December 4th, and we really only got a tree because we had friends coming to visit and we didn’t want to seem like Grinches.  🙂


But this year, its real.  I’m into it.  I don’t even know what that means.  Maybe I’ll be overdosing on peppermint chocolate covered pretzels while crafting up a storm.  Or maybe I’ll just listen to holiday music marathons while finishing up the master bedroom and demo-ing the guest bath.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to come up with as many excuses as possible to walk into town because 1) the weather down here right now is perfection! and, 2) I need to see this lobster trap tree as much as possible.

lobster trap Christmas tree in Key West, FL

I’m already trying to do one random act of kindness per day.  Just little things, but things that seriously just make me feel good.  I’ve shared random acts of kindness ideas here, here and here.

random acts of kindness

And if you’re looking for a fun advent calendar idea, this advent tree with a new random act of kindness for each day is a great way to get into the spirit.

countdown to christmas

I just had to share.  I’m feeling it this year.  I had to get it out.  I shared 15+ crafty ways to give thanks over on last week.

If that holiday spirit is starting to take you over, too, you might want to check out all of our holiday projects from years’ past here.  The very first blog post around here was about driftwood Christmas trees and one of my favorite crafts is this little seaglass tree from a couple of years ago.

And tell me, is it just me?  Or is this feeling something that’s in the air this year?

easy to install rolling door hardware

You guys!  This is one of those components of the master bathroom renovation that I have been not-so-patiently awaiting.  It’s like the one thing that I have been anticipating the most, probably because I knew it had to wait until pretty much the end of the project.  And because I’ve had the hardware staring me down since basically the outset of this remodel.

rolling door hardware in the master bathroom

We have an abundance of doors in this little house that all swing this way and that and tend to mess up the regular flow of traffic, so the idea of installing pocket doors and other cool alternatives is something that we’ve had our eyes on from the beginning.  And a cool old door with tinted window panels rolling on sleek bronze hardware is a no-brainer in my home design mind.

rolling door hardware in the master bathroom

Not only did I not want to hide this beautiful door inside the wall, but we have electric running through that wall and there are outlets and switches on both the bathroom and the closet side that we really wanted to keep.  Installing rolling door hardware just made sense.

I first saw hardware from Rolling Door Designs at my friend Diane’s and after scouring their website I found just the right design and finish I was looking for to accent our bathroom.  I am so thankful that they sent me this set of hardware to install in our own bathroom.


I chose the Bronze Plato Hanger because I liked the simple, rectangle shape and I thought the dark color would contrast well with the aqua color of the door.

easy to install rolling door hardware

Up until the point where you actually need to hoist the door onto the track this is a great one-person DIY project for anyone.  The kit includes all of your necessary supplies except the door and any desired handle and comes with easy to follow instructions.

rolling door hardware supplies

Additional tools you will need include:

  • tape measure
  • plumber’s level
  • 4 foot level
  • drill
  • hack saw (if you need to cut your rail to length)

Before you order your kit you need to know the thickness of your door so you can purchase the correct brackets.  Since our door was originally an exterior door and thicker than normal interior doors we got the long brackets with our kit.

Now let’s get it all installed!

Preparation:  If you need to, paint your door before installing the hardware.  Be sure you are using a solid wood door, a hollow-core door will not hold the weight once attached to the rail.

Attaching the roller straps to your door.  

Here’s what the printed instructions say:

1. Install the roller straps onto the top edge of the door. The location of these straps is critical for the proper, safe use of the rolling door.
2. The distance between the top of the door and the outer diameter of the back of the wheel (measured from the back of the door) should be 13/16” – 7/8” (this will achieve approximately 3/32” gap between the top of the door and the rail when these measurements are achieved).

This is what I’ll tell you:

The most important part of this step is to be sure that the roller straps are attached to your door high enough that the actual roller wheel can fit over the rail when you are ready for that step.  The diameter of the rail is 7/8″ so just be sure you have about 7/8″ from the top of your door to the outer diameter of the back of the wheel on your roller straps.  I don’t even think one whole inch would be too much.  If you are a tape measure ninja then you can worry about the 16th and 32nd of an inch details, but I just consider myself lucky when I’m in the right inch range.  🙂

The first thing I did was eye-ball where I thought the straps looked best on the door and decided to attach them about 1 1/2″ in from each end of the door and high enough that the diameter of the back wheel was at least 7/8″ above the top of my door.

rolling door hardware roller strap attachmentA little larger gap on the top would be fine.  I tried to get ours just at 7/8″ and I can attest to the fact that you can kind of muscle the wheel over the rail if need be … ours may have been closer to 13/16″, if I were to pay attention to all of those extra hash marks on my tape measure.   And if these fractions are making you dizzy, I apologize, they often have the same effect on me.

With the correct placement determined I held up each strap and measured the right height and distance away from the edge of the door and marked where to drill pilot holes.  I double checked they were level with a small level.

rolling door hardware roller strap attachment

Drilling pilot holes with a bit smaller than the diameter of the screws you will use to attach the straps will really help make sure you screw them onto your door exactly where you want to.  With your pilot holes drilled, hold your straps back up with your pilot holes exposed in the screw holes of each strap and attach with the screws provided.

Attaching the brackets and rail to your wall.

The instructions say:

1. The location of the rail is dependent on the height of the door, desired gap between the floor and bottom of door and desired overlay of top of the door to door opening.
2. Recommended spacing for the wall mounted brackets is 16”
3. The Short Bracket will accommodate doors up to 1-1/2” thick, the Long Bracket will accommodate doors up to 2-1/4” thick.
4. Wall brackets must be mounted securely into the studs behind the sheetrock. If the brackets are to be mounted to the molding surrounding the opening, the molding must be firmly secured to the wall framework

Here’s what I say:

There are a few keys here that you’ll want to keep in mind as you proceed:

1 – You will need to attach your rail to your brackets before attaching anything to your wall if you don’t have a long enough space to slide your rail onto the brackets after they are installed.  There is a track on the back of the rail where the front “T” of the bracket slides into, securing everything into place.  Since our shower glass wasn’t installed yet, I first attached the brackets to the wall and then slid the rail onto the brackets.  So you may want to tackle these steps in your own order, like cutting your rail first maybe.

2 – It is imperative that your door is attached to a flat wall and on a level plane (plain?).  If your wall has any curve in it or your rail is not attached totally level you could find it won’t roll properly, which would be a total bummer.

3 – Depending on the height of your door you may need to attach the rail so it sits at the same level as your door trim.  You can either add little shims behind each bracket so the rail will be far enough away from your wall to not have the door trim interfere.  Or you can extend the top of your door trim the entire length where your rail will go, like we did.

installing rolling door hardware

First, determine how high to attach your brackets (that’s what I’m measuring in the photo above).  Add the full height of your door (ours is 79″) plus the amount of gap you want between the bottom of the door and the floor (our is 3/4″) plus the height of the rolling strap you installed on the door (remember all of those fractions, ours is 7/8″) and you’ve got your measurement.

Again, drilling pilot holes will ensure your brackets end up exactly where you want them to be.  I installed the first bracket and then used a 4 foot level to determine the correct height for the other brackets.

installing rolling door hardware

For our door I only used 3 brackets and installed the two end brackets 2″ inside the end of the door trim and the third directly into the center.  Our wall is solid wood so we had a lot of flexibility in placement. And our door won’t get a lot of use so I don’t anticipate any trouble, but I’ll let you know if we end up going back and adding more brackets.

For our door I only used 3 brackets and installed the two end brackets 2" inside the end of the door trim and the third directly into the center.  Our wall is solid wood so we had a lot of flexibility in placement.

A hack saw can easily cut through the rail to make it the correct length and the rail tap and splice kit re-thread that cut end so you can screw in the end caps after you attach the rail to the brackets.

Then, ideally with the help of a second set of hands, mount the door with the rolling straps onto the rail.

rolling door hardware in the master bathroom

And as for installing the end stops and center guide … well, I didn’t.  🙂  This door really isn’t going to get much use, our bathroom is inside our closet that is inside our bedroom, and the two of us who live here are the two who will be using the bathroom.  When we have company we’ll most likely close the bedroom door anytime we want privacy in the room and I just didn’t want the added hardware.  The door is also aligned so the wall serves as a stop at one end and the shower curb serves as a stop at the other.

The instructions say:

1. After installing the door onto the rail, slide the door to the desired opened position.
2. Install the End Stop bracket to the floor or wall so that the door stops in the desired opened position.
3. Install the Center Guide bracket so that the door will always be captured by this bracket in the fully opened and fully closed position.
4. Repeat step #2 for installation of the other End Stop bracket when the door is in the closed position.

Our rolling door hardware has been installed for almost a month and I love it.  I can’t wait to get the closet finished so she has a prettier backdrop than the unfinished room, but for our otherwise all white bathroom I love the pop of color on the door (Behr Marquee, Eggshell sheen, Cascade Green) and the contrast with the dark rolling door hardware.

It inspired me to add a little more color with the Curacao skyline canvas a friend of ours gave us mounted over a little bit more scrap wood found in our crawl space.

easy to install rolling door hardware, step-by-step instructions (including what you really need to get right!) from

There are so many designs and finish options available, hop on over to Rolling Door Designs to start picking out your favorite.

And check out more about our master bathroom remodel like the DIY wood vanity, reclaimed wood mirror frames and the Carrara marble tile.

simple MDF craftsman style trim – an update

Hey hey!  Hope you’re having a great week.  I’m plugging away at sanding, priming and painting in the master bedroom and if you follow along on Instagram you know that we’ve added even more wood slat walls to this house.

wood slat walls

We’re also going to have some niches for a few favorite photos on that wall between the bedroom and the master closet.  Let’s just hope I measured them correctly.  🙂

This time around with the wood slat walls we went a totally new route and used a 1/4″ plywood product knowing that we wanted to paint them and really just needed the “look” of real wood slats.

Which has had me thinking long and hard about how we make some of our decisions around here when it comes to choosing a less expensive option when working on a DIY. Hey, a girl and her paint brush have many hours to contemplate a whole array of things.  Like how many times in a day is too many times to wish I had a bag of gummy anything to snack on?  Or what time exactly is officially too early to take a bath each day?

make a spa like diy wood vanity

But, back to the MDF trim and making decisions to save money that hopefully don’t end up sacrificing style.

Update:  I first posted about our decision to use MDF here, and give more detail on the cutting and hanging process.  And, because I’ve been getting the question, MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard which means that it is not real wood but more little pieces of fiber compressed together tightly to form a board.

Take the wood vanity for example, I used basic knotty pine because it is one of the most economical wood options, and I like the look.  I don’t ever want anyone to come into our house and be able to point out when something was used specifically for its cost saving qualities.  So sometimes I use a less expensive option because it really is what I personally prefer.

Other than those times, I think the objective we have when we choose a less expensive option is to stick with something that can very closely mimic the look of the “real thing” and save us a bunch of money.

I haven’t finished up the new wood slat walls in the bedroom so we’ll have to talk through that another time, but we have used a plethora of MDF to mimic the look of real wood trim in every room we’ve updated so far and it’s something that I get asked a good deal about.

making curtains for the guest bedroom

I’ve actually started to use a mix of MDF and real wood in spots (real wood baseboards in the bathroom just because of their likelihood to come in contact with water, but I stuck with MDF for the crown) and I’m happy to say you really can’t tell the difference.

rolling door hardware in the master bathroom

We’ve kind of decided to use real wood for doorway trim since they tend to get more banged up with all of our constant furniture re-positioning.

I was going to say rearranging, but I don’t know anyone who considers a dresser in the dining room a furniture arrangement.  🙂  And I say “kind of” because we are the type to come up with a reason to break our own rules once we decide on said rule.

And I learned a little trick that has made all the difference in how I look at the MDF.  There was a moment where I was going to stop using it altogether because I just felt it wasn’t looking enough like the real deal.

But!  You know after you install trim and you run caulk along it where the trim meets the wall?  When you’re using MDF just be sure to cover the entire cut edge of the MDF with caulk.

guest bedroom

After we cut our trim to size I use 100 grit sandpaper on each cut edge but I really hate sanding MDF, the sawdust is so tiny and I break out in a sneezing fit every time.  So I probably should sand each edge again with 150 and maybe even 220 grit to get them super smooth.  But my cheater trick with the caulk prevents me from actually having to do that.

This might not be something that bothers you, but when you get up close and personal with our trim I don’t want you to see that it’s MDF, that would defeat the purpose of using it.  There are a few pieces that we hung at the very beginning in the living room that I still need to go back and just run a bead of caulk with my finger along the edge.  Funny enough, it actually makes the baseboards easier to clean.  If the cut edge isn’t totally smooth when you run a wet rag over them the dust and dog hair just get caught in the little divots.  With the edges caulked you can run a rag over them and it’s just like the smooth edge of a piece of wood.

fall decorating ideas

After figuring out that little trick the only downside I see about using MDF to create a simple craftsman style trim is that it only comes in 8 foot lengths so we have to use more than one piece on most walls.  A little more caulk and some touch up paint camouflage the seams pretty well, enough so that I continue to use the stuff for our trim.  🙂

What about you, other than cost do you have any tricks to why you choose a less expensive option than that special something you really want?

the freestanding tub and wall mount faucet & taking senior pictures in Key West

Well, it happened. My first bath here. And it was glorious.  And no, I haven’t been in the tub for the last two weeks.  We’ve been having a lot of fun with family visiting (7 people over 10 days to be exact) and then the week that was Fantasy Fest here in Key West.  If you don’t know Fantasy Fest, google it, and don’t blame me if you see things you can never unsee.  I’d show you pictures but, well, this isn’t that kind of blog.  🙂

Truth be told, we were home every night far too early to see many of the things we hear about, but it is still fun to meander around in town and see Key West turn into one big street festival for a whole week straight.

But now that our company is gone and the most famous week of the year for this island is behind us I need to get back to work.

rolling door hardware in the master bathroom

The oh-so-close-to-being-finished-master-bathroom was a big hit with the fam and I’ve been finishing up things like window trim, the half wall by the tub and installing a door … and the shower glass arrived!

We scored that door for free and I know glass panels in a bathroom door aren’t for everyone, but we love it.  All the details on the super easy to install rolling door hardware are coming up soon, and I’m still on the look out for some kind of door handle.  I’d really love to find something cool that will work, even though it might not technically be a door handle.  For us, the door stays open all the time anyway so the wait for just the right thing isn’t a big deal.

Actually nothing is a big deal, because the tub is installed rendering my world complete.

freestanding tub and wall mount faucet

I seriously could end every day with a bath and a glass of wine or three.  My sister-in-law prefers to refer to it as “sitting in her own funk”, so, like the glass door panels, I realize a tub isn’t for anyone … but it is totally for me.

I did a ton of research because I didn’t want the tub to feel too big for the space but I also didn’t want it too small to really enjoy.  #FirstWorldConcerns

I settled on the 60″ Erion Acrylic Slipper Tub in part for its asymmetrical shape.  I worried a symmetrically shaped tub would look wrong if it didn’t end up centered directly under the window, you know me my measuring skilz.

freestanding tub

It’s worked out to be perfect, it is centered under the window (because even I get lucky with the tape measure every now and again) and the higher back is perfect for leaning back and relaxing the evening away.

And we’ve even installed a new tv and just need to get it hooked up to the cable.  Hopefully before Thursday so I can turn into a prune while watching #TGIT.

freestanding tub

I ordered the tub with the overflow and drain included in a brushed nickel finish, the overflow came attached but we needed to install the tub drain ourselves.  I kind of messed that up the first time, but it all worked out.  Even though the faucet weighs about 20 pounds and came with instructions to “hook it up to the water supply lines”.  Ha.

We installed extra 2 x 4s right in the wall and there may have even been some zip ties involved in helping to secure everything completely.  We tugged and prodded and tightened to be very sure there was literally no wiggle room in any of the pipes before we closed in the back of the wall.  We’re like MacGyver, except we didn’t use duct tape this time.  Even though I balked at the price for weeks we purchased this Wall Mount Telephone Faucet and Hand Shower in a brushed nickel finish. These were our big splurge items for the room and Joel was all for it knowing how much use they would get.

And like we did with the new sink faucets and shower head, it bares reminding to run water through your new pipes for a minute straight to clear your lines of any built up debris so it doesn’t get stuck in the screens in your new fixtures.

wall mount telephone faucetI’m now thinking a full length mirror is in order where that bench is so the Rise to Shine sign might not have a long future ahead of it, I can see Joel smiling as I type that.  And we’re way over-thinking the whole towel hook placement.  Who knows, we may end up with those suction cup hook things right on the shower glass.  For now the chair is working just fine for my towel and the floor has consistently worked splendidly for Joel throughout his entire life.  😉

master bathroom renovation

All-in-all we are soclose to finished that we’ve already moved on to a new room instead of finishing up in here.  🙂  Here’s hoping the master bedroom is a fairly quick fix so we can move on to the guest bathroom and finally the kitchen.  And the master closet has to get built some time in there, too, but I’m just waiting for the layout to “come to me”.  That sort of thing will happen, right?!?!

And on the senior pictures in Key West front, check out these beautiful people who I got to photograph while they were visiting.  We have both a niece and a nephew graduating from high school in the spring and we had fun playing around with some photos around town.

We loved that some of the brick had a gray patina that matched Colin’s shirt.


And Olivia came up with the brilliant idea to do a shot by a street of the same name.


And we couldn’t pass on getting a photo of all 6 “grand kids” together on our front porch.

grand kids

I guess this is my way of saying we’ve been all over the board these last few weeks but now I’m in action mode and motivated to finally move our mattress off the floor in our master bedroom for good. 🙂

those two other times I mismeasured

I’m beginning to feel like Roger Clemens in front of the grand jury talking about his history with performance enhancing drugs … and his tendency to misremember.

I have the same tendency to mismeasure. It’s incurable. I don’t really get it. It just happens. Luckily it is one of those things that doesn’t really matter in DIY. 😉

As an aside, apparently mismeasure is not a word, but don’t worry, I won’t let that stop me from using it over and over again in this post. 🙂

Remember what happened with the new vanity?  It’s the fatal inch.  That last little bit of space that sneaks up on me.

So I really couldn’t help but laugh when the tile in the shower was done and the large shampoo bottles I built the cut-outs for didn’t really fit.

master bathroom

I mean, they fit.  But you can’t exactly pump the product out of it since they touch the top.  Joel just shook his head and said “Shocking” when I told him. Sarcasm gets us through the day.  Neither one of us were really that surprised.  🙂

I mean, I used the actual bottles to gauge how big to make the little nook.

master bathroom renovation

Just goes to show that I need to go back and read my own advice sometimes.

Luckily this little mismeasure was something that could be solved by the dollar store.  I just found a bottle I liked and since it didn’t have a pump I also bought another bottle with a pump.  If I had been thinking I would have just used the pump from my shampoo bottle and cut the straw to fit the shorter bottle.  But this post is evidence I am not always a thinker.  🙂

master bathroom

I peeled off the label from what was a bubble bath product (And you know I’m using the bubble bath, I just poured it into a glass jar.) and used this trick to get rid of all of the gooey sticker residue.

A simple hand-drawn S to indicate it is shampoo, because I’m going to have to make another one for the conditioner, and we’ve got a decent looking $2 monogrammed shampoo bottle that fits in our new niche.

monogrammed shampoo bottle in the master bathroom

Now this other little mismeasure might be considered less of a mismeasure and more of a misinformed situation.

So I bought this tub.

And I ordered it at the last-minute possible so we weren’t the neighbors with a tub in their yard for too long.

So I pulled the spec sheet off the internet to determine where to drill the drain hole in the floor and tile around it.


And low and behold that was not the right spot for the hole.  Huge bummer.

But luckily it turned out to be a fairly easy fix since my wrong hole will forever be hidden under the new tub.

Since I had ordered the tub with an overflow drain the drain hole wasn’t supposed to be directly under the tub drain location but in front of the actual tub where the overflow drain came down.  Something you should definitely verify before making any drain hole decisions.  Says Captain Obvious.

Now with the tub and drain on hand I just used the drain to determine where the hole should go.

monogrammed shampoo bottle in the master bathroom

Then I used a chisel and a hammer to break away the tiles over where the new hole needed to go.  I actually first tried to put tape over the tiles and wet them and use a hole saw, but the hole saw I have didn’t work on the tile and I didn’t want to buy a new one, so I went the chisel and break route.  But there are hole saws made to cut tile, here’s an affiliate link to a bunch of good options.

tub drain hole in the master bathroom

Once I broke through the tile the hole saw did work to drill through the 1/4″ cement board and the subfloor and then it was just a matter of cutting and placing a few new tiles around the new hole and grouting them.  Remember, these cuts don’t have to be perfect because they will end up hidden under the flange around the drain pipe.

tub drain hole in the master bathroom

I wish I had more beautiful pictures for you but sometimes I like to share the little mishaps that happen along the way, too.  Thankfully these did nothing more than slow down the progress of the bathroom renovation.  I actually have yet to complete a project without at least one thing going wrong or not as planned.

Speaking of things not going as planned, our shower glass is still missing in action and even though our new window has been installed in what was the gaping hole in the bathroom (YAY!) the installers want to come back to seal around it so I can’t trim it out yet.  Hence the lack of more pretty pictures.

But we’re down to the final details on this whole redo, and I’ve already started working on the bedroom and closet.  Can’t wait to see what I mess up in there.  😉

How about you, is there anything you tend to mess up over and over when you’re doing a project?

trough style sink faucets and a rain shower head and valve, you know, the bathroom bling

There were many aspects of this master bathroom renovation that were really up in the air until they actually happened.  I’m not really the type to create a mood board and search for things that fit the design.  I tend to roll with the punches and make decisions as it all unfolds.

But I just knew from the get go that we wanted a rain shower head and “fancy” vessel sink faucets.

trough style vessel sink faucets

We installed a rain shower in a previous bathroom and loved it.  Many people like double shower heads or all kinds of fancy controls and water spray options but for some reason we don’t.  I’ll be over here chillin’ in my tub with a glass of wine and lots of bubbles while you’re messing around with your fancy showers.  🙂

vintage style tub faucet

More on the tub soon, it’s all installed y’all and it is awesome.

And one thing that I can’t stress enough is that a faucet install is seriously one of the easiest DIY upgrades you can make.  We had to install all of our new plumbing, so that doesn’t really count, but if you’re working with an outdated bathroom and just want to bring in a little spark of new, a faucet is a great way to do it.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

Like all of the other aspects of this bathroom, I did all kinds of research locally and online (Remember how I decided to narrow down all of the choices in 3 simple steps?).  Knowing the styles we were looking for helped narrow things down pretty quickly and I soon found and feel in love with a specific trough style faucet that had a matching cousin in the rain shower head on National Builder Supply.

So, I did what I do and reached out to them and said “Hey, hey, I totally have a crush on your faucets and I’m wondering if you’ll let me take them home with me?”

National Builder Supply is a great online resource for, wait for it, all kinds of great supplies you’ll need for a variety of building projects.

What I really loved about getting a matching set of sink and shower faucets is that the finish matches perfectly.  Even though many items will have a “polished nickel” or “brushed nickel” finish they do vary slightly from brand to brand and although I didn’t think it was a big deal when it came to our lights or the tub (which is on the other side of the room) I really wanted these fixtures to match perfectly.

trough style vessel sink faucets

The faucet installation was a simple matter of doing what the easy to follow instructions told us to do.  The hardest part was deciding exactly where I wanted it so I could do the nerve-racking task of drilling a hole in the top of our new vanity.

sink faucet installation

The water lines and a threaded rod poke through the hole under your vanity and with a wrench you just attach the plate that secures the faucet to your counter and attach your water supply lines to your new faucet.

sink faucet installation

It really is as simple as that.  One big tip we learned along the way, especially since we had installed all new water lines, is to run water into a bucket through your new water lines for at least a minute before hooking them up to your new faucet.  This gets rid of any sediment that may have settled in the lines and prevents that sediment from getting lodged into your new faucet.

The rain shower head and valve seemed a little bit more daunting to us because I chose a valve that could separately control the water pressure and the temperature.  #WeBeFancy

Which basically just meant there were a lot more parts to work with.  In other words, there just seemed like a lot more opportunity for error.

rain shower head and valve installation

Joel and I did this install together, for these kinds of tasks that seem a little over our heads at first I guess we just like to have the moral support of a partner in crime.  Or it might be someone to blame if things go wrong.  I’m not entirely sure.

And luckily the instructions given were clear and thorough and got us through each little step without fail.

One other big plumbing tip we’ve learned along the way is to use pipe thread sealant for any threaded plumbing connection.  We always just used to use teflon tape, over-tightened the connections and crossed our fingers.  Sometimes it worked, and then other times, well, you know.

Then we met this guy in the plumbing aisle.


Apparently if you stand in the plumbing aisle looking confused at all of the options while holding a shower valve long enough a nice plumber will decide to solve all of your problems.  Seriously, this guy was great. More than great.  And we didn’t even get his name.  But our exchange lasted long enough that I thought, I totally need photo evidence or this little experience is just going to die in my memory.

So far this year the plumbing aisle has proven useful for working out and making friends.  🙂

And his insistence that we use this pipe thread sealant hasn’t failed us as.  I just dab a bit of it on right over the teflon tape for any threaded connections like the ones we had on the new shower valve.

installing a shower valve

Wrap the teflon tape as tight as possible around the threads in the same direction that you will then thread on the connection.  Righty tighty, lefty loosy.  🙂

installing a shower valve

And I just use my finger to spread the sealant evenly.

installing a shower valve

One half turn with a wrench after you’ve hand-tightened the threads as much as possible should do it.

installing a shower valve

With the new valve hooked up to our water supply lines we followed the instruction to let the water run for a minute to get any sediment out of the lines before installing the new valve controls.

installing a shower valve

And then it was just a matter of closely following the easy to follow instructions.  Slowly.  And one at a time.  🙂

installing a shower valve

installing a shower valve

At this point I was so excited for that first shower I pretty much fell off the taking picture bandwagon.  But we used the same teflon tape then sealant technique to attach the shower head arm to our water supply and the rain shower head to the arm.  Don’t forget to slip on the flange before you screw everything together.

installing a shower valve

And if you need me, I have not left the new bathroom since this little project has been completed.  Even though the shower glass hasn’t arrived, there apparently is a little missing glass incident so if you live in the Miami area and see any 1/2″ pieces of glass that look lost please send them my way.  🙂

trough style vessel sink faucets

The fact that the shape of the rain shower head mimics the shape of the vanity lights I chose and that we installed it at about the exact same height as the lights is the kind of thing I would like to tell you I planned.  So I am going to tell you that.  Just know that is a lie.  🙂

rain shower head

The exact fixtures that National Builder Supply sent me for the renovation (Huge thanks NBS!) are the Delta Cassidy Single Hole Bathroom Faucet and the Delta Cassidy Shower Faucet and valve.  I think they are the frosting to the cake, or the peanut butter to the jelly or whatever food related combo you like best.  The perfect amount of bling to compliment the more rustic elements in the room.

Now tell me, are you a rain shower head person or the fancy-multi-control-body-spraying-shower type?

And, just because its funny and I’m from Maine, you should check out the Flannel City Faceoff that Duluth has put together.  Are you from an area famous for flannel, I am I think you should all vote for Portland, ME to win it all here!

And today I’m sharing 20+ Fall Decorating Ideas over at, I found some great ideas to get us in the spirit of the season!

DIY wood vanity in the master bathroom

Pretty much from the outset of this master bathroom project I knew I wanted to make the vanity because the space was tight and the odds of finding a piece that would fit perfectly into it were slim.


Turns out the odds of me making something that was a perfect fit were slim, too.  But, man, did I try.  And it was looking so perfectly-fit-like for a minute there.  Such a long minute that I went so far as to declare it right here, with photo evidence.

DIY wood vanity

But you may notice there was only baseboard installed on the right side, and even though there is clearly plenty of room for baseboard on the other side, what there really wasn’t enough room for was the shoe molding, we use a basic quarter round, so the actual vanity install attempt looked a bit like this.

DIY wood vanity

Can I get a womp womp? #BuzzKill

Lucky for us the right side of the vanity is just a half wall to the shower so I removed the quarter round on that side and we ran it through the table saw to slim it down about a 1/4″ and reattached it.  It’s mostly hidden behind the vanity so if the touch up paint fairy would just come already no one would ever notice.

DIY wood vanity

So, true to form, this little DIY wood vanity didn’t turn out exactly perfect, but we were able to completely fill this little vanity nook to maximize the space in our bathroom.  And with this little Key West house we can’t leave any space free to do its own thing.  It has to serve a purpose for me, or I don’t want it around.  🙂

DIY wood vanity

And here’s the thing about the design.  I really, really, really wanted open shelves.  That’s another thing about small spaces … we need the storage but too many bulky furniture pieces will just start to make the space feel tight and cramped.  And I was kind of worried I was loosing storage space, but with the right mix of containers that can hide all kinds of necessities we have actually gained a lot of super convenient storage.

The galvanized bin on the top, I draped a white dish towel along the front to cover the holes because there’s all kinds of ugly crap in there that I need frequent access too.  And it even has a small basket hidden behind it with things I don’t need to get at often.  And the basket beside it is basically empty so we have room to grow.

master bathroom vanity area

I think it has one of those teak counter feels to it, like it could be in a spa, which is exactly the feel I was hoping for in our master bathroom.  Score one for the good guys!

You may remember this was my inspiration pic from Joss & Main.

master bathroom vanity inspiration

And I made a few key changes for it to work for us:

  • I really wanted drawers but with the vessel sinks we needed the counter height to be lower so there just wasn’t enough room.
  • You could very easily make each shelf by overlapping the slats like the inspiration pic and just finish nailing them into the stretcher boards, but again with the vessel sinks and lower counter and I wanted the shelves as tall as possible so I used pocket holes instead.
  • I came thisclose to ordering this leg from Osborne Wood which would have been pretty much an exact match to the inspiration, but in the end decided I liked the clean lines of a straight leg and, I’m not gonna lie, the ease of assembly with no weird tapered angles to try to figure out was a key determining factor as well.  🙂
  • That weird back and side piece on the counter … really just not necessary.


tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

So here’s what you’ll need to make your own spa-like wooden vanity with wood slat shelves!  The final dimensions of this exact vanity are 29 3/4″ high, 23″ deep and 63″ long.


  • Four 2 3/4″ posts, 29″ long (Osborne Wood sent me mine for this project)
  • Seven 1 x 4s, 8′ long (I used all knotty pine for this project)
  • Two 1 x 4s,10′ long
  • Two 1 x 12s, 6′ long
  • One 1 x 4, 6″ long
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • 1 1/8″ screws (lots and lots of them)
  • 2″ screws (about 25)

Tools with affiliate links to products I use:

This is actually the first time I used my Kreg Jig.  I used the Kreg Jig Jr for a lot of projects before.  All of the projects with pocket holes that I made for the book were all made with the Jr … and I even made a whole bed frame with the Jr.  And after Kreg Jig saw the bed they sent me the real thing … and I’ve stared at it in the case for about a year.  But with 15 slats per shelf needing 4 pocket holes a piece plus a few more for the stretcher and apron boards … carry the one, and that equals a lot of pocket holes.  So I clamped the Kreg Jig to a scrap 2 x 12 we had and clamped that to a sawhorse and got over my hesitation to try something new.

how to make a diy wood vanity with a kreg jig

But let’s start at the beginning.

Step 1 – Since there are so many separate pieces of wood that make up this vanity I knew I wanted to make all of my cuts first so I could stain each piece individually before assembling anything.  I just think staining is so much easier this way.

So here’s your cut list (some basic building terminology is required here … very basic):

  • use your table saw to rip the two 1 x 4 x 10s and one 1 x 4 x 8 in half lengthwise (these will become your stretchers and aprons)
  • use your miter saw to cut the remaining 1 x 4 x 8s into 18″ lengths (these are the slats for each shelf, make them 5″ shorter than the finished depth if your legs are also 2 3/4″)
  • use your miter saw to cut the 1 x 12 x 6s into 63″ lengths (these are the top of the vanity, make them the full length you want your finished vanity)
  • use your miter saw to cut the 1 x 4 x 6 to 55 1/2″ (this is your front apron, make it 7 1/2″ shorter than the full length if you legs are also 2 3/4″)
  • use your miter saw to cut the ripped pieces as follows:
  • 5 @ 55 1/2″ long (these are your front and back stretchers and your back apron)
  • 6 @ 15 1/2″ long (these are your side stretchers and aprons)

Step 2 – Give each board a light sanding with the 150 grit sandpaper just to smooth out any rough edges.

Step 3 – Get busy staining. And try not to be jealous of my luxurious work space.  Mico is not quite sure what to think of it either.

staining wood for a diy vanity

I used the same stain brand and color we used on our floors, ZAR, modern walnut.  I put one coat of stain on all sides of each piece and then applied a coat of clear wax.  You might want to polyurethane or clear coat your vanity but the clear wax has worked well for us so far.

Step 4 – Drill your pocket holes.  Each board, except for the top pieces and the legs, need two pocket holes in each end.

use a Kreg Jig to make quick pocket holes for a sturdy assembly for your wood furniture pieces

How the Kreg Jig was a huge time saver over the Kreg Jig Jr was that I could clamp a board into place once and drill both of the pocket holes for that end. This step is more time consuming than it is difficult.  Just clamp, drill and repeat again and again and again.  And be sure to drill your pocket holes into the same side of each board.  That’s a no-brainer, but something I was pretty sure I would do if I didn’t pay close enough attention.  🙂

Step 5 – Assemble the legs.  Measure and mark 1 1/2″ and 15″ from the bottom of each leg.  Attach the side stretches (with the pocket holes facing into the vanity) flush to the outside of the legs above these marks through your pocket holes.  And attach the side aprons flush with the top of each leg (not shown in picture).

use a Kreg Jig to make quick pocket holes for a sturdy assembly for your wood furniture pieces

Step 6 – Assemble the shelves.  I used a 1/4″ scrap of lauan so the slats would attach to the stretchers 1/4″ down from the top and a 1/2″ wide scrap piece of wood to space each slat equally apart.  And make sure the pocket holes in both stretcher pieces are facing the same direction, so they will end up facing the back of the vanity when its all said and done.

DIY wood vanity

Here’s where the measurements get really particular.  Since I decided on the size of my vanity based on the size of the space it is going in I needed to get creative with the spacing of the slats on each shelf.  What worked for my vanity is to space each slat 1/2″ apart, but the space between the two end slats and the slats next to them is only 1/4″ and those end slats will butt right up to the side stretchers that you’ve already attached to the legs.  You might need to take some time to make your spacing work for your vanity.

And when assembling each shelf, figure out where the two slats at each end of both shelves will go, but don’t attach them yet, they need to get attached after you assemble the shelves to the legs so you can access the pocket holes.

Step 7 – Attach both shelves to the legs.  These measurements work so that the shelves will indent the legs about 1″.  I attached the bottom shelf first but if I had it to do again I’d attach the top shelf first.  And I find it easier to lay the legs on the ground and line the shelf up to them so you can drill straight down into your pocket holes.

DIY wood vanity

And again, don’t worry about how awesome my work space is, I understand not everyone can be so lucky.  😉

Once each shelf is attached flip the entire piece upside down and attach the last slats to each shelf, you may need to use a mallet or hammer to nudge them into place.

DIY wood vanity

The last slat on each side of both shelves will need to be cut with a jig saw to fit around the legs.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

And since cutting the notches out of those slats made one of the pocket holes at each end unusable I drilled two more pocket holes so those slats could also be attached to the side stretcher.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

Step 8 – Attach the front and back apron to the legs through the pocket holes making sure the pocket holes face the back of the vanity.

Step 9 – Attach the top.  I know a wood vanity top isn’t for everyone.  But this is our master bathroom and Joel and I tend to not have water fights in here so I’m not really concerned about water exposure beyond what the clear wax can handle.  But, long term I would actually love to try my hand at making a concrete counter top for in here.  For now, these two 1 x 12s attached through pocket holes into the apron work for us.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

How’s that for a little DIY?  Beyond the cutting and staining time the actual time to assemble goes by pretty quick and I did it all with my own two hands, although it would be helpful to have an extra set of hands when it comes to attaching the shelves to the legs.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

I debated using the Driftwood color stain that I used on our wood bed frame, but I like the contrast the darkness of the Modern Walnut has against all of the light and white elements in the room.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

And there were way too many discussions about the final height of the vanity with ridiculous enactments of how high we would have to lift our arms to wash our hands in the vessel sinks.  Seriously, that’s the kind of thing we do for fun around here.  Rumor has it that a standard vanity height is 32″ but is raised to a stately 36″ in a master bathroom.  Our vanity measures 29 3/4″ high with the height of the top of our vessel sinks at 37″.  It seems just right to us.

make a spa like diy wood vanity

It’s hard to remember that this space used to look like this.

master bathroom before

Say whaaaaaat?

a detailed tutorial for making your own wood slat vanity, would also make a great console table

cutting, grouting and sealing marble tile tips

Hey, thanks for all the great comments on the post about tiling a bathroom, anyone getting ready to tackle their own tile project can give me a shout if you have any other questions.  I definitely have all the answers.  Or something.

I got so wordy about tile I had to separate these cutting, grouting and sealing marble tile tips into their own post.  What you’re not going to find are your typical how to lay tile details, well, just to cover those basics:

  • start with cement board (more on that here)
  • create a shower pan if you’re tiling a shower (more on that here)
  • use thinset mortar (more on that here)
  • spread the thinset with a notched trowel (more on that here)
  • and lay your tile as even as possible (more details on supplies and techniques here)
  • be sure to admire your work because this can be a daunting task

But it seems like the little details we encounter along the way get skipped right over when people are writing tutorials so that’s what I really want to focus on with some affiliate links to the products I used.

all kinds of great tiling tips for your next tile project ... this one is specific to marble tile in a master bathroom but great info for any tile project

Tile Cutting Tips:

  • I used the 7″ Ryobi wet saw with a stand to make every cut and didn’t have a need for any nippers. If you’re working with larger tiles you may want a larger tile saw.
  • A regular pencil worked fine to mark the tile.  It didn’t get washed off by the wet saw and it rubbed right off after.
  • Be sure to line up your mark with the correct side of the blade.  This is true for all cutting, the blade takes about 1/8″ out of what you’re cutting so be sure it comes out of the scrap side and not the piece you want to use.
  • Sometimes you can’t use the wet saw guide when making irregular cuts (like to make sure the first row of tile is level).  For these cuts mark a full line on the front of your tile and not only line the mark up with the blade but also line up the front of the tile with the front of the wet saw.

tile cutting tips

  • You want to make all of your cuts with the front of your tile facing up, but it is common that a small piece of tile will break off when you get close to the end of your cut.  To prevent your tile from breaking, start by making a short cut with the back side of the tile facing up, then flip the tile over (so the front is facing up) and start the cut from the other end of the mark.  Your tile won’t chip or break where your two cuts meet.

tile cutting tips

Let’s be honest, don’t worry about this for any cut that will get hidden under your baseboards, this is only something we did for cuts that would be seen, like where the Gray Dot Long Octagon tile met the 6″ x 12″ tile in the doorway and the tiles along the top of the shower curb.

tile cutting tips

  • The Gray Dot Long Octagon tile that we used for the floor (and the 2″ x 2″ tile we used in the shower pan) come assembled with a mesh backing in pieces that are about 1 square foot.  They also come with a paper backing on the mesh, it was much easier to cut the mosaic sheets without the paper backing.  Just a little FYI if you’re using mosaic tile also.


Tiling a Floor: (Check out this post for tips on tiling a shower.)

  • If you’re working with a wonky old house like we are chances are your walls aren’t completely square.  Thank you home builder.  But, beyond some additional measuring this isn’t really a big deal.  For floor tile specifically, I just picked a highly visible area of the floor I wanted to be sure ended up looking nice and marked a straight line parallel to another visible line in the room.  Which for us was the shower curb.

tiling a floor with mosaic tile

If you’re working with a smaller floor with only one real visible wall I would just start tiling along that wall.  The tile will look square to the room since it lines up with the one visible wall.  For our bathroom, the wall to the left is hidden behind the tub, the wall to the right is hidden behind the vanity and the wall in the back is hidden behind the half wall to the toilet area.  The only important “wall” to line up with was the shower.

  • Start by laying the tiles in a straight line along your mark on the floor.

tips for tiling a floor

  • If you’re going to tile the whole room in one day, be sure to leave yourself a way of out the room.  I started in the center of the room, then tiled on the right (away from the doorway exit).  We used the 6″ x 12″ Carrara marble tiles under the vanity area because they were going to be hidden anyway and I didn’t want to waste the beautiful long octagon tile … those tiles are cheaper too so it’s a great way to save a bit of $$.

tips for tiling a floor

Then I tiled behind the half wall in the toilet area, then along where the tub would be back toward the door and out of the room.

  • With the mosaic tiles keep a pair of scissors handy.  We had to piece different sections of tile together in spots and sometimes it was just easier to work with individual tiles than the full sheets. It was also easier to cut the tiles for around the drain holes when the tiles weren’t attached to the mesh and other tiles.

tips for tiling a floor

  • And if you’re using a mosaic tile with little pieces of tile mixed in, like a gray dot for instance, be sure to push each piece into the thinset.  You may end up needing to re-secure those little pieces if you don’t make sure of this while you’re tiling.  I would assume.  😉

Grouting Tips:

Grouting was actually the part I was dreading the most, I just had bad memories of tackling this all on my own in a previous house.  But I have a GAME CHANGING tip and it is so little, but so HUGE for any tile job that is bigger than a few square feet.  For this project I used this grout in the Delorean Gray color. For general grouting tips:


  • I paid a little extra for a higher quality float and it is still in near perfect condition.  I was worried with all of the tips and edges of the mosaic tile that I would scrape and gouge and ruin the float. The higher quality option held up perfectly.
  • Be sure to fill the gaps between each tile with as much grout as possible.  Grout will shrink a little when it dries so this helps reduce any little groutless spots.
  • For corners and edges where tile meets trim or something other than tile (and for any spots that just need another dab of grout) there is a grout caulk that matches the grout colors and is easy spread in those little areas.
  • Knee pads – I’ve mentioned it before, but the old pair we had finally bit the dust.  Actually they started pinching on the back of the knees so I begged and pleaded with Duluth Trading company and they sent me this pair with hinged backs and gel and leather knee supports.  They are so awesome!
  • Have multiple buckets of water, each with their own sponge and someone else to rinse them out and refill with clean water.  (This is THE game changer!)

tips for tiling a floor

I can’t over-emphasize this tip enough.  And I know it seems simple, but having to get up and rinse out your sponge and refill the bucket just takes you out of your rhythm.  When I explained to Joel my plan he declared himself my “Bucket B!tch” for the day.  It was awesome and went by so much quicker.

Now, as for sponging strategy here’s what seemed to be quick and efficient:

  • grout about a 2 x 2 foot area at a time, more if you have less grout lines than the bajillion I had per square foot  🙂
  • use a sponge and bucket of water to clean up the excess grout from each grouted area about 3 separate times (any more and the grout will become watery and any less and you will be left with a lot of grout haze)
  • grout another 2 x 2 foot area (while your bucket b!tch cleans your water and sponge)
  • use the clean sponge and water to first go back over the previous 2 x 2 foot spot to get it more clear and then to start to clean the second grouted area
  • grout a third 2 x 2 foot area (while your bucket b!tch cleans your water and sponge)
  • use the clean sponge and bucket for a third time, just one clean swipe, over the first area you grouted

grouting tips

We had three buckets and sponges but we probably could have done it with two most of the day.  But if you’re bucket b!tch is going to lose interest in their job and make themselves useful around the house doing things like dishes and feeding the dogs and other various items of distraction stick with three.  🙂

Marble Tile Specifics:

  • Marble is natural stone so it absorbs moisture and grays when wet, the tiles will take a couple of days to dry out and get back to their original color, wait until the tiles dry out before you seal them so you don’t lock in the color variation.  You can kind of see in this picture that even though the shower pan tiles have natural color variation they are lighter than the wall tiles appear because they are dry and the thinset behind the wall tiles is still wet so the tiles appear grayer.

tiling tips

  • Because marble is a natural stone and will absorb color you need to seal them before you grout to prevent the grout from discoloring the tile.  I used this sealer and just put it in a spray bottle and sprayed three coats on the ungrouted tile.

sealing marble tile

Then I used a grouting sponge to wipe off any excess.  You know when it is completely sealed when the tile stops absorbing the sealer.  After three coats I also dripped some water on the tile to make sure it would bead up and not absorb into the tile.  You can’t see the water on the sealed tile because it wasn’t absorbed and didn’t discolor the tile, but the tile on the curb that I also put water on wasn’t sealed so you can see the difference.

sealing marble tile

  • Marble is very brittle so if you’re the type to freak out about every little scratch or imperfection this might not be the tile for you.
  • Any natural stone is also going to have some color variation, if you like complete uniformity, marble might not be the right tile for you.

I think that about covers it.  Once you reach this stage in a room renovation you really do reach a turning point.  Take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back because you’re in the home stretch!

so many great, detailed tips for tackling your own tile project, everything from cutting, grouting and sealing tips you don't want to miss

Now tell me what I missed.  I know a bunch of you have done your own tile projects, what are your secret tips?

upcycling idea: DIY reclaimed wood framed mirrors

rustic bathroom vanity and mirrors

How about some basically free DIY reclaimed wood frames for you?

This is a classic case of someone’s trash becoming my treasure.  On an innocent little walk around the neighborhood many months ago I noticed a neighbor clearing out a lot of old wood and other goodies from her property and stacking it on the street for garbage pick up.  Now, some might wait until after dark and make sure that no one sees them rummaging through someone else’s garbage.  But we are so far beyond that point, any shame I once felt about dumpster diving seems like a previous life at this point.  It’s not my fault that people throw out things that I covet.

rustic bathroom vanity and mirrorsLast I checked “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s garbage” wasn’t a sin.  🙂

From that one garbage pick up so far I have made the legs for the DIY wood bed frame and the reclaimed wood wall art in the guest bedroom.  And now these perfectly rustic mirror frames.

During demolition I found a plain mirror without a frame in the back of the old closet (that is now our master bathroom) that measured 20″ wide by 33″ high and I held onto it.  As we got into the master bathroom renovation and contemplated things like one vanity light or two and the layout started to come together somehow it turned out that the mirror would be the perfect size for our little double vanity.  So I ordered another mirror the exact same size from the same company where we have ordered all of our doors and windows without really having a plan.

rustic bathroom decor ideas

You could easily make this same style frame with new wood, a 2 x 4 would be a similar dimension.  But what I did was take an old 4″ x 4″ post … and you know it was really old because it actually measured a true 4″ by 4″ … nowadays they measure 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ … and ran it through a table saw to rip the post down to 1 1/2″ thick slices.

Actually, a couple of friends helped me because the blade on my table saw didn’t come up high enough so they let me borrow their heavier duty table saw to make the cuts.  And by “let me borrow” I mean they let me bring my post to them to cut.  Our friends are the best.

Speaking of friends, I emailed my friends at Ryobi and told them my idea to make some frames where I wanted the mirror to be set into the frame so the chunky reclaimed wood would sit flush on the wall so they sent me over their router to try out.  Here is an aff link to the router that I have and this is the same size as the router bit I bought for this project.

diy reclaimed wood frames

I had never used a router before so I started by clamping a straight edge to a scrap piece of MDF (I’d use real wood if I were you, sawdust from MDF is the worst and pretty much a router is a sawdust making machine.) and giving it a test run.

I made some marks for where I wanted to router out on my test piece and measured how far from the actual cut the router guide sat to know where to clamp my straight edge in place.

diy reclaimed wood frames

For the top and bottom pieces of each mirror frame I couldn’t router straight from one end to the other, I needed to stop so the ends of the wood would sit flush with the sides of the frame.  You could miter the corners of the frames and then you could router from end to end without the cuts being seen, but I really liked the idea of just all straight edges so based on the size of my mirrors I used my miter saw to cut the reclaimed wood into pieces for the frames.

diy reclaimed wood frames

It didn’t take long to feel comfortable enough to make the actual router cuts on the reclaimed wood.  I set the router bit so it cut 1/2″ deep so the 1/4″ thick mirrors would fit and also a 1/4″ piece of plywood would fit behind.  I was thinking I would need the plywood to screw in some brackets of some kind to hold it all together.  I was wrong … but we’ll get to that in a second.  Routering (not a word?) only the depth of the thickness of your mirror would work just fine.

I even gave it a go without a straight edge as a guide because I knew these cuts would be safely hidden from the world behind the mirrors never to be seen by anyone at anytime.

Unless I decided to show you the madness that is me trying to router without a straight edge.  🙂

diy reclaimed wood frames

So, um, yeah.  The guide was helpful.  🙂

For the 4 boards that would be the sides of the mirror frames I just ran them each through the table saw cutting out a little rectangle of wood.  Each piece had to be run through twice, make sure to lower your table saw blade so it only cuts into the wood as much as you want to cut out.  One cut was just a 1/2″ cut to match the 1/2″ depth of the router cuts on the top and bottom frame pieces and the other cut was 1 1/4″ so make the cut out wide enough for my mirrors to fit in place.

diy reclaimed wood frames

Then just line up each frame, with the front side facing down, and mark where to drill your pocket holes.  Since this is reclaimed wood this part is important because the wood is not exactly in perfect shape all around.  I avoided any spots with old nails in it or holes and drilled two pocket holes in each end of all of the side pieces of the frames.

diy reclaimed wood frames

And remember how I was wrong about needing the 1/4″ plywood?  I used these flat, square brackets (I can’t find a link to them online but I bought them at my local Home Depot) and just screwing them into the reclaimed wood and overlapping them behind the mirror and plywood was enough to hold everything in place.  I had to add the plywood since I had cut my frames 1/2″ deep, but if you only cut yours 1/4″ you can use the same brackets just overlapping the mirrors to hold them in.

diy reclaimed wood frames

Two of these heavy-duty D hooks worked great to hang each mirror and then the hardest part was just centering and leveling everything.  You know … centering and leveling everything just enough.  There’s nothing perfect around here.  🙂

diy reclaimed wood frames

For a hand towel hook I found a great galvanized grab hook in the nautical supply section of our Home Depot.  It’s similar to this one, and I bought the back plate at HD too but can’t find anything similar to link to online for you.

I love it.  🙂

diy reclaimed wood frames

And the mirrors are my new favorite things.  I adore them.  It doesn’t hurt that they only cost me the price of the brackets and D clips.  An upcycle and a bargain, that’s a recipe for love around here.  🙂

complete master bathroom renovation including this awesome DIY vanity and reclaimed wood framed mirrors, so many more beautiful details on this site

What’s the recipe for love around your place?

Get caught up on our entire home renovation here and read details about the master bathroom tile and all of the other free, rustic elements.

just some photos of our new rustic bathroom

You know what I learned about myself during this specific renovation?

And I don’t know why I didn’t know it before.  I’ve never really put too much thought into what my personal style was I guess.  I know I’ve just always veered toward the rustic and collected versus the contemporary and trendy.  But I never really knew exactly how I would define how I pull it all together. And now that I’m typing that, I still don’t know how I would define it … so that’s not what I learned.  🙂

rustic bathroom

Turns out I do like a little bit of trendy, because I think that Carrara marble is all the rage right now, but I also think it’s got a classic look about it and for anyone who likes a white, light, bright or neutral color palette it is potentially the perfect backdrop to build on.  If if you want to build on it with a chair and galvanized bin found on the side of the road.

rustic bathroom

And even the sinks I picked are described as “modern style”.  Here’s an aff link to the the exact sinks I bought.  So I like more modern elements than I thought I did.

master bathroom vanity area

But me and rustic, we’re besties.

rustic bathroom vanity and mirrors

We stay up at night giggling and I find myself staring lovingly into her eyes.  Seriously, I was just standing in the entry to the new bathroom yesterday and Joel walked by and said “Are you just staring at it all again?”.  Ummmm, maybe.  😉

Turns out I like a lot of rustic in small doses, if that even makes sense.

All the way down to using a simple, cleaned out dog food can as a plant pot and an old galvanized metal tray that was in our shed when we bought this house to hold the everyday bathroom necessities.  Here’s an old post about ways to use things you have around the house in new ways, you know, upcycling ideas.

This chippy old cabinet is something my mom was giving away.  It had chipping white paint on it already, looked like someone had maybe used oil based paint and then latex paint and they didn’t mix.

Instead of working hard to make it perfect, I worked much less hard to make it more imperfect.

rustic bathroom decor ideas

And that sign … well there’s some household controversy over the sign right now (read: Joel doesn’t like it because apparently he has something against cheerful sayings on old pieces of metal) … but that old piece of V crimp roofing metal came out of our crawl space.  I kind of love it.  Joel kind of hates it. We’ll see what happens.  🙂

And those reclaimed wood mirror frames are my new favorite thing for now.  I love when I can take an old post out of my neighbor’s garbage (Yep, it was with these old planks I turned into art for the guest bedroom.) and actually use it for something functional.  Spoiler alert – those frames are super easy to make so keep your eyes peeled for old wood in your neighbor’s garbage.

I have a complete source list coming your way when all is said and done, we haven’t even discussed the most amazing faucets known to man (and how seriously easy it is to install a faucet) and no bathroom is complete with a toilet … which we still don’t have.

rustic bathroom decor ideas

But I couldn’t resist sharing a bit of what the bathroom is looking like these days in between the more meaty posts about tiling a bathroom.

And that sheer curtain you may have spotted is just an effort to deflect your eyes from what is really going on out there.


That is a tub and plumbing that still needs to be installed, a few extra accessories waiting for their time to shine and cleaning supplies where there should be a toilet, an unfinished half wall and a side yard that functions as a work shop and storage for furniture not yet in use.  Oh yeah, and a big hole where a new window should be.

But, do you remember what that spot looked like before?  Here is the same window before demolition.

master bathroom before

And the wall where the vanity is now …

master bathroom before

Amazing how quickly I can erase these images from my memory.  🙂

rustic bathroom vanity and mirrors

So, yeah, I learned that if loving rustic is wrong I don’t want to be right … but I also like balance.  I am so much more well-rounded than I gave myself credit for.  (Hopefully you can hear the sarcasm there.)

Update:  You can now read the tutorials for installing rolling door hardware, making the reclaimed wood mirror frames and the DIY wooden vanity.

What about you?  Do you have a defined style?  Love rustic or hate it?  Want to come hang out with me and stare at the bathroom?

tiling a bathroom shower with marble tile

Hey hey!  So this post has taken on a mind of its own.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the tile (isn’t it great!) and the whole process of tiling a bathroom with marble tile so I figured I needed to get all of my thoughts out to the world before they escaped my little brain.  Who knew I had so many thoughts on tiling.  🙂

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

The finishing details of the bathroom are still coming together.  We bribed some friends with promises of beer to help us bring the tub into the bathroom and we still need to run the water and drain lines to the tub and toilet.  So, not the most exciting details on the planet, but I have already taken my first shower in the new shower (AHHHH!!!) even though the glass surround hasn’t arrived yet.  #PatienceOfA3YearOld

Joel hurt his back doing something totally not home improvement related (Seriously, he was on a boat!) so the crawl space plumbing projects have halted to pretty much a complete stop.  On the upside that has opened me up to try out way too many arrangements of baskets and bins on the open shelves of the vanity.  I seriously love that kind of stuff and feel like it could easily turn into the ever revolving arrangement with Joel constantly asking me where stuff is.

All the more reason to get his, er, I mean the hall bathroom done next.  🙂

master bathroom vanity area

So let’s talk about tiling.  We covered the details about the exact tile we usedhow we decided that marble was the right choice for us and how to decide which way to lay an irregular shaped tile like the long octagon.  But let’s get into some details about the actual tiling experience for those of you getting ready to tackle something like this yourself.  And this is a long one, I’ve actually separated the floor tiling, tile cutting tips, tips that are specific to marble tile and thoughts on grout into another post.  You may just want to pin this for easy reference when you’re getting ready for your own tiling project!

all kinds of great tiling tips for your next tile project ... this one is specific to marble tile in a master bathroom but great info for any tile project

First, I think tile is a great DIY project.  Be it a backsplash or a whole bathroom, it is not a hard project, just something you have to be prepared to take a lot of time with.  You won’t want to rush through and set unreasonable deadlines because inevitably, like most DIY, it will take longer than you think.  Areas like the bench and the shampoo nook took more time than expected.  With all of those little corners comes more tiles that need to be cut … which always equals more time.  So, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that you’ll hopefully find helpful.

1 – Preparation – We’ve covered a lot of the preparation steps so far including:

2 – Getting started is always the hardest part.  Here are a few things to consider before you lay your first tile:

  • How are you going to handle transition areas?  Like where tile ends and either meets up with a wall, trim or something else.  You could either order tile trim pieces (often referred as bullnose or pencil tiles) or tile right up to wood trim.  Since our shower butts right up to the entrance trim I used a 4 foot level to mark a line straight up the wall where to stop the tile where it would line up with the tile on the outside of the shower curb (that I am holding up with my foot) and then we installed the doorway trim up to that same line after we tiled.  I ended up shimming out the door frame a bit so I could use a full trim piece.  If your measurements aren’t so tight it would probably be easier to install the doorway trim first if it’s not installed already.

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

For the other side of the shower I used a piece of the bullnose trim to gauge where the shower tile should end (I lined the outside of the trim tile up with the outside of the half wall) and then used the level to draw a plumb line up the wall.

bathroom tiling tips

Another area that needed thought was the wall that goes up the side of the bench.  I started by measuring the center of that wall (including the thickness of the tile that would be installed on the bench side of that wall and the trim tile that would be installed on the vanity side of the wall and then installed the tile so the rows alternated with a full tile and then the grout line between two tiles running exactly up the center of that wall.

Honestly, this is one of the spots that I am most proud of, if I hadn’t thought to do this first it would have looked really wonky with slivers of tile and off centered grout lines.  For all the times I mess things up, I’m patting myself on the back for this one.  So I think the score is something like 3 billion mess ups to this one smart move.  I’ll take it.  🙂

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

  • Are you going to use the same tile for curb surround or use a larger tile for less grout lines, which is what I did.  I used a 6″ x 12″ tile cut to size for the top and both sides of the curb.
  • Make sure the first row of tile you lay on the wall is level.  Whether you plan to start in the middle of the wall, which some suggest, or just make sure that bottom row is level (which is what I did) you want to ensure your wall tiles run level, even if your room’s ceiling and floor are not level.
  • Plan to tile all floor surface areas before any wall areas that are tiled and overlap the floor tile.  I tiled the shower pan first then the shower walls (doing the bench seat before the back of the bench) then the bathroom floor and then the shower curb because it overlapped with the shower floor.

3 – Here are some affiliate links to the supplies and tools I used:

4 – Practice with the wet saw.  I got a scrap tile from a local work site and just made cuts with our wet saw because it was the first time I was using it.  Ryobi sent me their 7″ wet saw with a stand and it was easy to assemble and worked great for this whole project.

bathroom tiling tipsPracticing helped me get a feel for how slow to go to prevent chipping the tile and how handling the tile and the saw felt and I didn’t have the pressure of potentially ruining the beautiful marble tile.

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

5 – Consider making as many cuts as you can before you even mix your thinset mortar.  The first part of the bathroom I tiled was the shower pan and I actually dry fit every single piece of tile before I mixed any thinset.  I played around with where it made sense to start laying the tile to hopefully minimize the amount of cuts I needed and I was able to piece it all together and cut each tile to fit so when I was ready to tile it really only took me a few minutes … and I was confident that it was right because I had already seen it in the shower pan.

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

6 – Make sure your wall tile is level where ever you start.  I started right with the bottom row on the wall and like with the shower pan, I actually cut every tile in the first row of wall tile before I mixed any thinset.  Start by finding the lowest point where your shower pan meets the wall, place one full-sized tile (mine are 3″ high by 6″ wide) and then mark a level line around the entire shower at the top of the tile and then mark and cut each tile so it will hit that line.  For accurate cuts you need to hold your tile up to the spot where it will be installed with the front of the tile facing the wall and make your marks on the sides of the tile, but you always want to cut the tile with the front facing up so you need to transfer your mark to the front of your tile with a straight edge.

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

That corner of the bench where the wall tile is leaning is the lowest spot on the shower pan.  The reason why you have to find this spot to get started is to avoid needing to add little slivers of tile in the lower areas (or leaving an extra-large grout line).  Not the end of the world but nice to avoid all the same.  And yes, it took me a few level lines around the shower to figure this gem out.  🙂

bathroom tiling tips

Also just do a quick check with the tape measure to see how many tiles fit along each wall and do what you can to avoid just having a tiny sliver of tile at any point.

General Tiling Tips:

  • Toothpicks work awesome as spacers in areas where for some reason you want a slightly smaller or larger grout line than the full spacer.  I used them when installing the bullnose tile and in random spots on the wall where I needed to tweak the grout line a bit to keep everything level.  I read this when Brittany posted about her kitchen tile and it is a great tip.

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

  • Working in small sections is not only easier but takes the stress off, just mix a little bit of thinset because it goes a long way.  I would put about 2 inches of water in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and was always ready to be done tiling when I got to the end of the mixed thinset.  I tiled the shower over the course of a week first tiling the shower pan, then the bottom of the walls up to the seat of the bench, then the seat of the bench and walls up to the shampoo niche and then the top of the walls.
  • When tiling outside corners I found it worked best to work on the rows on both sides of the corners at the same time and making sure they lined up as we went.  You can also see in this picture that I numbered each cut tile for the first row after I cut them so I wouldn’t mix myself up.  That’s another good tip right there.  🙂

tiling a bathroom

  • When tiling any horizontal surface (like your curb, a bench and the bottom of the shampoo niche) make sure to lay the tile on a slight slant so any water that gets on it won’t just sit on it and instead it will drip down into the shower pan and toward the drain.  If you think you’re going to forget this one I invite you to solicit my husband’s help, for some reason his one main goal during the whole process was to annoy me remind me to do this more than a normal amount.  (Joel: “Can I remind you of something?”  Me:  “Is it just going to annoy the crap out of me?”  Joel: “Probably, but don’t forget to slant those tiles.”  Me while rolling my eyes and pulling out the level and adjusting the tiles to sit on a slant: “Thanks for the reminder.”)
  • For any row that has a full-width tile at one end always start tiling at that end of the row.  If you start at the other end there is a chance you could get to the full tile and for some reason you’re a little off and need an extra sliver.  That would not be good.

long octagon gray dot marble tile

  • For areas where a vertical surface meet a horizontal one (like the top of the half wall behind the bench and the shampoo niche) you have to decide which tiles you want to overlap.  One day I want to try miter cuts in tile, but for this project we just went with an overlap.  Having the wall tiles overlap the others looks better I think, but also leaves extra grout lines on that horizontal surface for water to sit.  We did a bit of a combination of strategies.

tiling a bathroom

tiling a bathroom

  • Always do a final double-check of all tiles when you’re done to make sure none of the spacers have fallen out of place and none of the tiles have slipped around.  I would also check back after about 30 minutes just to be sure and at that point the thinset hasn’t cured so last-minute adjustments can be made.  It can get dizzying staring at all the tile for so long, stepping away sometimes helped clear the brain.
  • Look for thinset on the front of your tiles and gently scrape it off, if any thinset accumulates between your tiles a spackle knife works great to scrape it out.

tips for tiling a bathroom with marble tile

  • And here’s a big ol’ maybe idea – use the same color thinset as you plan to use for grout.  I used white thinset and gray grout but if I had used gray thinset it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if thinset got between the tiles because it would have just looked like grout when it was done.  Just a thought.  🙂
  • Like any DIY, doing this with a friend is always more fun, and quicker.  Tiling is a great two person job, when Joel was around he would handle all of the cuts and I could just stay in the bathroom and mark and measure and lay tile.

Woah, tile tip overload, but hopefully a few hints in there that will help you with your next tiling project. And now for the best part …

Where I got my fabulous tile:

A huge thank you to The Builder Depot for supplying me the tile for this master bathroom renovation!

a little fall porch party #EclecticallyFall

Hey there!  Happy happy Friday!  If you’re here with the #EclecticallyFall House Tour from The Wood Grain Cottage, welcome!


If you’re a regular around here, welcome!

Heck, if you typed the space between in Google looking for the lyrics of the DMB song, welcome!  It’s a good day to be here because I’m hosting a party on my porch.  And I promise to play you some Dave Matthews Band.  🙂

You can see all of the homes participating in the Eclectically Fall House Tour by getting started over at Eclectically Vintage.


This is going to be one of those parties where I do a lot of deflection of what is really going on around our house to try to keep your attention focused on the wine porch.

fall front porch decorating ideas

See, we’re 85% complete (if I were to toss a random number at it) with a master bathroom renovation project that also has our master bedroom and closet tore down to the studs.

So really, you should just have a seat right here on this old church pew.

fall front porch decorating ideas

I’ll light those lanterns which are super easy to make.

And you can cozy up with my new lumbar pillow and throw blanket from World Market.

fall front porch decorating ideas

Even though we are in Key West, I am dreaming of the nights in our hopefully near future when that throw will come in handy.

Can I offer you a bite to eat?  fall front porch decorating ideas

I thought these ceramic mason jars could come in handy on many occasions, and today they’re perfect for holding the silverware for our little shindig.  And that little glass flask might someday hold bubble bath next to my new tub that still needs to be installed in our new master bathroom … but right now it makes the perfect container for our favorite home-made vinaigrette.

fall front porch decorating ideas

I usually like to spice things up a bit around the house for fall, which is potentially the best season of them all.  Who doesn’t love to put on a sweater and boots after a long, hot summer?  But this year decorating is taking a backseat to home renovation.  Sometimes life just works out that way.  But this little tour was the perfect excuse for me to whip out the pumpkin craft I made out of a palm frond a couple of years ago when we lived in Curacao.

fall decorating ideas

And accessorize with a few large pine cones I brought home as a souvenir from a trip to Lake Tahoe about 12 years ago.

fall decorating ideas

And yes, that’s a another little pumpkin craft from yesteryear.  But let’s get back to the party, can I offer you more wine?

fall decorating ideas

This hammered copper tub is perfect for toting around all the necessary party beverages … and might also be perfect (or maybe one of these baskets) for holding towels in the new bathroom.  It’s not hard to see what is on my mind these days.

fall decorating ideas

That pallet slat flag is a project I made for my book that is all about pallet projects, and just released yesterday!  You can find more details here, enter to win a copy here and order a copy here.

And really, I would invite you in and show you around, there are a few presentable spots, and I’m loving my new clock found at World Market.  I oogled over many of their lanterns and may have found the perfect one for our upcoming kitchen renovation.

fall decorating ideas

But let’s save that for next time, you might trip over an air compressor, toilet or some other random thing that is in our living room at the moment.  😉

Now head over to the final stop on the Eclectically Fall tour at The Decorologist.  And have a great weekend!


Huge thanks to World Market for the gift card to purchase a few fun fall finds!  Please check out and follow our Eclectically Fall Pinterest Board with World Market!

AND … I just wrote a book all about DIY Pallet Projects and a few friends of mine are hosting giveaways.  Enter for your chance to win a copy here, here and here!  And you can order a copy here.

DIY wood shutters {and a day I never really ever imagined}

Hey hey!  Things are trucking right along in the bathroom department … I may have just sent Joel this text saying “I know, I know … I’m getting a little ahead of myself”.

master bathroom vanity area

Yep, I’m already messing around with decorating and organizing … but the sinks aren’t even hooked up yet … and you might notice there aren’t any faucets.

I couldn’t help it.  🙂

While I continue to mess around with baskets and pretty things make progress I wanted to share a project that I get asked about a lot … the DIY wood shutters we added to our front windows.

creating curb appeal with some front porch decorating

If you’re curious, the other project I get asked about a lot are the old DIY canvas silhouettes.  And I didn’t share the tutorial when I first photographed them because they were a project I made for the book. And in a full circle moment, for all you Oprah fans, the release date for the book is today.  When I received my copies in the mail it was just so surreal to see that all of the time and effort really did turn into a tangible thing.

And the funny thing about the shutters is that they aren’t even made out of pallets.  Here’s the thing about the book.  I didn’t really have a dream to write a book but when the opportunity presented itself I knew it was something I couldn’t turn down.  If I hadn’t taken on the experience I am the type of person who would have always wondered what it would have been like.  But I also wanted the book to be about so much more than just making projects out of pallet wood.  I wanted there to be a message of “ability”. Like you have the ability to create things you love for not a lot of money.  You don’t have to buy the latest trends or be close to a lot of shopping (thank goodness for that!) to surround yourself and fill your home with things that you love.

living room side wall May 2014

And you also don’t even have to lug a pallet home and take it apart to get the look of pallet wood.  I know that kind of thing isn’t for everyone.  So I also tried to show in the book that you have the ability to take pallet wood and create items that don’t look all worn and rustic.  Or, you can take brand new wood and create something that looks like it was made out of pallet wood.

pallet bench and shutter

I like working with pallet wood because its free (!!), but I also like the rustic look of it and the versatility. But sometimes you just don’t have a pallet on hand or for whatever reason pallet wood won’t work for your project.  That’s what I ran into with the shutters, I knew what look we wanted, but our windows are 54″ tall and I didn’t have the patience to wait around to gather enough extra long pallets.

So I just used pressure treated 1 x 4s and cut them the same length as the height of our windows, sanded them down a bit and gave them a dark stain.  The two slats going horizontally across the front not only add a decorative detail but they hold the whole shutter together.  I screwed each slat into the little brace piece from the back so you couldn’t see the screws.

It really is one of the more simple projects, but something that nearly every person who meanders by our house (it is Key West, people meander everywhere after all) comments on.  One of our neighbors even sent her contractor over to take a look at them so he could make her a similar set.  Also proving that a project doesn’t have to be complex or difficult to be awesome.

house exterior April 2014

And speaking of awesome.  I wrote a little thank you to you guys …


Yeah, this very quickly went from being about you to being about my adorable 13-year-old puppy.  Ok, back to you …


If it were not for this blog and you guys that book would never even have been.  And I know that.  And want you to know that I know that.  Now, I’m not going to go getting all sappy now.  Like someone I know. Apparently you can’t blame someone for forcing me to be their friend without them getting all gushy about it.  And if you don’t know about the concept of having a person, you might find this amusing.

So thanks.  You really are the best of all time.

And just so this isn’t all about you and Marley I have to include the spunky 12-year-old, too.DIY wood shutters


PS.  My buddy Shirley is offering a giveaway of the book on her blog and you can order a copy right here.

the turning point in the master bathroom renovation

You guys!  This weekend was the most exciting weekend in the master bathroom renovation so far.

By far.

I can’t really explain it all, but the moment the finishing touches start happening is the same moment a renovation starts to feel like a real room.  And ghost face and I installed the vanity lights!

master bathroom vanity lights

Actually, ghost face did it all, I just handed him electrical tape so I took a picture of that hard work in action.  🙂  And if you weighed in on our vanity light dilemma you remember the big debate (OK, maybe it wasn’t all that big) about what kind of vanity lighting to choose.  And then once we decided on a two light vanity light I showed you all kinds of options we were considering.  And here they are.  We picked #8 on the list.

And I love them.  “This is so exciting!”  That’s what I said on repeat every time I’ve looked at them since they’ve gone up.  There may also be some shoulder shaking involved of that dear husband of mine to show him just how exciting it is!  I’m still not sure he gets it.

But this happened, too.

DIY wood vanity

I made a vanity.  And the most exciting part … it actually fits into the nook!  It’s no secret that me and measuring don’t always see eye to eye so I made Joel help me bring it in there just to make sure it really fit.  And there were a few sighs of relief.

Up until now most of what we’ve been working on are things that really aren’t seen by anyone.  I mean no one is going to walk into this bathroom in the end and be like “My, what a nice shower pan you have.” These new details make demolition feel like the distant past, that stage when everything is just hard … did that really even happen?

Now we’re adding in the pretty, and it is so inspiring.  And motivating.  And makes the whole process feel so worthwhile.

DIY wood vanity

There are still so many little details I need to tackle like finishing the molding and baseboards and door trim and a door would be nice.  And there is a tub in our side yard because we continue to be awesome neighbors that needs to find a permanent home.  And the vanity in the bathroom was short-lived because Sunday was slated for grouting.

how to grout marble tile

Which is another big and exciting step!  Grout somehow just brings tile to life.  And true to form Marley made herself right at home on it while I finished up grouting the shower.


Mico still has yet to summon the nerve to venture into the new room, but she gets at least a half-inch closer to the door everyday.  🙂

And if I were to make one suggestion for anyone getting ready to tackle a 5 hour grouting extravaganza, having a husband who will stream your favorite team’s football game is kind of the best way to go.  I have all kinds of tips to share on the grouting and the tiling, coming soon for sure.  And it will involve the suggestion of having a “bucket b!tch”, I’m just saying.  Game.  Changer.  Much more to come on that.

It may seem weird that I did the floor before the shower but I was worried the gray grout was going to be too dark for the shower so we started with the floor and gave it an hour to dry to make sure it was going to dry lighter … and it did.  And it’s exciting to have the grouting behind us.  Some trim has started to go up and I’m pretty excited at how the rustic wood slat walls work with the long octagon marble tile.


It’s starting to really come together!

Here’s a look at what still needs to happen for me to just take a bubble bath already:

  • seal newly grouted tile (need to wait 3 days)
  • baseboard, molding, door trim and shoe molding all around – hang, caulk and touch-up paint
  • finish and install vanity
  • install two sinks
  • install two sink faucets
  • install shower valve and rain shower head
  • make and hang vanity mirrors
  • remove old window
  • install new tub (it will be coming through the window opening)  🙂
  • install new window (by professionals)
  • install tub faucet
  • make/find chandelier for above tub
  • install toilet
  • install glass shower walls (by professionals)
  • prep, prime and paint bathroom door
  • hang door on rolling door hardware
  • install towel hooks and other necessities
  • shelving of some kind maybe over the toilet?
  • accessorize and organize
  • I’m sure I’m forgetting something

Ok, I’ve rambled on enough.  Time to get back at it, and I have some totally-not-bathroom-related posts coming to you later this week but just know while you are reading them I am in the bathroom ticking some things off the list while exclaiming “This is so exciting!” and shaking Joel’s shoulders as he tries to elude the inevitable.

Is there any stage of a renovation that really feels like a turning point to you?  Is it freshly primed drywall maybe?  Something different?  Or beginning of the real pretties, too?

Carrara Bianco Honed Long Octagon Bardiglio Gray Dot Mosaic Marble Tile

That’s it.  The full name of the master bathroom floor tile in all its glory.  And you guys are crushing on it as much as I am.  I’ve discussed the tile decision here and little more here.  And it wasn’t until I saw this tile that I finally decided to succumb to my marble tile desire.  I had never seen anything like it before and honestly I’m not the biggest fan of the octagon shaped tiles with the black dots that I see around a lot.  So my instant attraction to this shape, the long octagon, with the gray dot instead of the black dot, came as a bit of a surprise.

And you know we’ve laid the floor tile, right?  So which way did we end up going?  Many of you weighed in on the discussion both here, on Facebook (And did you happen to see all of the Dolphins paraphernalia that was left for us as a prank here?) and on Instagram.  And the winner is …

long octagon gray dot marble tile

We just couldn’t talk ourselves out of it.  I read every opinion and really considered every option … even trying the diagonal.  Ummmm, no.  🙂

long octagon gray dot marble tile

We ended up laying out a lot more tile and tried it in two different areas of the bathroom, not only along the shower curb but also along the back wall.  Because where the tile is laid perpendicular to the shower it runs parallel to the back wall and vice versa.  So here’s what we stared at for a while.

long octagon gray dot marble tile

long octagon gray dot marble tile

Some of you commented that you had received professional advice that a tile should run so that leads you into a room.  And then there was also the comment that the professionals say that a tile should run right to left as you enter the room.

long octagon gray dot marble tile

And we considered back and forth until we just decided to go with our gut, which was also suggested by a number of you.  For some reason we feel you can really see the tile better run this way.

long octagon gray dot marble tile

And now that its down, we love it even more!  I love that it’s not all white and that the mosaic nature of it really breaks up the white-ness of Carrara marble.  I’ve been compiling my tiling tips and will get together a post for you of what we’ve learned along the way, and in the mean time I can be found standing in the bathroom doorway gazing at my new tile and dreaming of the day when it is all grouted and sealed.  I am waiting a few days to seal everything before I grout it and seal it again because, as you can kind of see in the photos, some of the tiles are still gray from the moisture in the mortar.  Since we broke up the tiling of the shower we learned that it takes 3-4 days for the tiles to get back to their original color … all the more time for me to stare and admire.  🙂

long octagon gray dot marble tile

Although, the day after all of the grouting is done will be a glorious one.  And on that note I would like to apologize in advance to my lower back, knees, shoulders and every other body part that is about to explain to me (in both sharp and aching ways) exactly why people get paid big bucks to do this stuff for a living.

And one parting shot of what the bathroom looks like from the entrance to the closet.  Need a reminder of the full floor plan?

long octagon gray dot marble tile

I’m stoked that The Builder Depot provided all of the tile for this master bathroom renovation, and this exact tile can be found here.  Right now it is on sale for $12.75 sq ft.

and in other news, more exterior painting progress

Hey guys!  Tiling is going strong around here.  And by that I mean Joel and I knocked out the floor in about 7 hours on Saturday before we drove to Miami. (Might not be my recommended strategy for everyone … just ask my lower back, and knees and every other aching body part.)  Thank you so much for the input on laying the floor tile.  There are just a few trim pieces that need to find a home around the shower curb and it’ll be time for some grout.

I don’t know if I really emphasized here enough how much I actually hemmed and hawed about marble.  I love the look and just wasn’t sure it was what I wanted for the bathroom, I was worried it would feel uppity or too ritzy and you know I like me some rustic, reclaimed, used up goodness.  But geesh, if I could take these gray dot long octagon floor tiles to dinner and a movie I totally would.  I am in love.

But since that whole deal isn’t done, and the longer it takes the more I am dreading all of the grouting, and just pretending in my mind that it is going to be one of those surprising quick and easy tasks (don’t ruin it for me!) I wanted to show you some fun progress around here that was quick and easy.  Ta Da!

exterior painting progress

Not exactly the most glamorous of shots, I know, an it’s still not the whole house … but over the course of two days a crew of 4-5 guys came and scraped, caulked, primed and painted about 1/3 of the exterior of the house, leaving only about 1/3 left to do.  It was great to continue making progress on the bathroom and have a crew working on something I really didn’t want to do myself.  It always amazes me to see the progress of 4-5 people working together versus my lonesome self.  It seems miraculous.

Joel and I had taken a day and thoroughly cleaned the side of the house they were going to paint.  It was amazing how much chipping paint came right off.

exterior painting progress

We also removed all kinds of random unnecessary wires that were run along the exterior.  Here is Joel contemplating what to keep and what to yank.  And the plan is to paint that shelf unit the same color as the siding and hang it out there and create some sort of weather resistant cover (out of canvas or maybe boat upholstery material or something) to store paint and other supplies.  I know it sounds weird, but storing things outside is pretty typical around here, and that side of the house is somewhat sheltered from the normal direction of rain, and there’s a nice, wide overhang from the roof.  But you can still judge, it seems hillbilly, I know.  #EmbracingOurRedneck

exterior painting progress

And here was our arsenal of tools … it was amazing how many random screws and brackets we were able to remove along with all of the old wire.  We kept the telephone box and the cord coming in from the street but we removed pretty much everything else.

exterior painting progress

And after a through cleaning and removal of the chipping paint we were anxious to have someone else get the new color on.

exterior painting progress

The first day they were here they scraped more, sanded and caulked.

exterior painting progress

The morning of the second day they covered up anything that we didn’t want to paint, like the pipes that hook up to our AC unit, and spot primed any bare wood.  Mico what quite intrigued by the whole deal.

exterior painting progress

Any by the end of day two they had a few new coats of white trim paint on everything, including our gutter (which we were convinced we needed to change out, but they salvaged), and the new color still catches me off guard and makes me smile uncontrollably.

exterior painting progress

For some reason they didn’t paint the telephone box, so I’ll have to tackle that at some point (add it to the list) but they did paint the electric panel, that was already almost the same gray color.  Go figure.

exterior painting progress

They actually used a paint sprayer that was very similar to the Homeright sprayer we used on the parts of the exterior we did tackle ourselves.  And here are a few points of interest from our experience with the exterior painting project.

  • prime the trim (if necessary) first – if you spray the siding first then you have to cut in on the trim twice, once with the primer and again with the paint, if you prime before you spray the siding you don’t have to be as neat about it and only have to cut in when you do the paint on the trim after you spray, I learned that one the hard way when we sprayed above our front porch before I primed the trim

exterior painting progress

  • we left the inside corner trim pieces gray because they got a solid coverage of the gray paint when we sprayed … but they aren’t primed so we’ll see how long we can go before I need to go back and prime and repaint

exterior painting progress

  • it seems less noticeable if some gray paint creeps up on the white trim than if some white trim creeps out onto the gray paint, when cutting in the trim I didn’t quite bring the white paint all the way to the siding for that reason
  • one super cool thing about the sprayer we have is that clean up is a breeze, you just run water through it until it runs clear, that takes about 5 minutes and then place the sprayer nozzle in water in between uses, no cleaning required … and definitely hold onto the manual if you do get a sprayer, I’ve referred to it every time we’ve used it so far to  troubleshoot … it was a quick reference to remind us to thin down the paint just a tad when we had trouble getting it run properly the second time around.

One more step in beautifying our curb appeal.  We’re far from done, but any reduction in the peach paint makes us happy.

covering up our faux brick exterior

You can read all about our curb appeal ideas, how we removed the faux brick and even how we raised the roof.  She’s coming around.  🙂

house exterior April 2014

Now, back to the bathroom.

laying irregular floor tile {what would you do?}

Hey hey!  Happy Friday!  I’m popping in with quick little what would you do question.  You know I like to get your opinion on things that are really stumping me.  And at the end of the day yesterday I had the entire new master bathroom cleared out and I started playing around with the floor tile.  Its Carrera marble in a mosaic pattern called long octagon with a gray dot accent.


But, since it’s not a regular octagon I can’t decide which way to lay it.

At first I was really leaning toward the length of the octagon leading into the bathroom.

laying irregular tile

This is how it will look as you enter the bathroom.  The shower is immediately on your right and there will be a clear glass panel all along the curb of the shower.  They are coming today to measure for the glass!!

I don’t have the tile laid on the outside of the curb yet because I wanted to lay the floor tile first.  That part was nerve-racking, making sure the 6 x 12 tiles overlapped enough on the outside to come over the top of the tiles that will cover the outside of the curb.  Just one of the many aspect of tiling that made my brain hurt.  🙂

Anyway, I was totally thinking this was it and then I turned the long octagon tiles 90 degrees and got this look … which I also like.laying irregular tile

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know if there are other things I should be considering?

Both the tub and the vanity will run lengthwise as you enter the room, like the tile here.

laying irregular tile

And the room at its longest point runs sideways, like the tile here.

laying irregular tile

Does any of that matter?  Is it just purely personal preference?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison for you.

laying irregular tile

What would you do?

And have a great weekend.  Doing anything fun?  We’re headed to the Patriots v Dolphins game in Miami on Sunday for Week 1 of the NFL season.  The weather may not cool too much down here but nothing says fall quite like a little football.  🙂

And really, what would you do here?  Thanks!

talking tile and other bathroom stuff

You know, when this master renovation project began I had visions of creating these all-inclusive checklists of what to do and in what order if you, too, want to tackle this project.  But the reality is that my mind just does not work that way.  In the way that is clear and concise and orderly.  Its rhythm is more of a roller coaster ride combined with bumper cars that all take place while you’re going down the part of the log flume where you get soaked no matter what.

Even still, somehow we’ve managed to get to this point, complete with Mico at her perch just inside the kitchen because she’s still afraid of the madness, but too curious to ever be too far away.

master bathroom shower tile

The tile is happening!  And it is quite the process that we will discuss another time.  After the shower is complete there is still the whole floor to tile and then all of the grouting.  I might be done by the new year.  😉

I find around here we work well when we work on multiple things at one time.  I like to be able to mix it up on a daily basis to avoid monotony.  I like the ability to take a break from a not-so-fun task and shift gears to something entirely different while keeping the forward progress moving.  Where it becomes inconvenient is when I try to put it all into words and share it all with you guys.  Cause we are all over the place right now!

One of the really exciting parts of this whole deal is watching the finishing touches arrive.  While our dining room has served as a closet since we demo’ed what was our master closet, our living room has quickly become a landing zone for all different kinds of things.  And I find myself pretending the toilet is a sink to gauge how the new faucets will look against the white.

master bathroom supplies

Or would clear glass sinks be better?  (Spoiler: I went with white.)

master bathroom supplies

Again with all of the choices.

I knew I wanted light tile (based on the bathroom images I have been drawn to) and with tile styles in mind I had a couple of ideas for wall paint color swirling pretty consistently in my mind.  I even tried one here.  But I quickly realized I needed to pick a vanity first.  Having the vanity style, color, shape, etc defined here seems important because we’re going with a double vanity so it will essentially be the largest (and possibly only) piece of furniture in the room.

I spent some time on Pinterest and Google Image Search (yes, I still do that, I think it has great results), I actually opened one of my Pinterest boards, aptly titled “bathrooms”, and checked out my pins.

And it jumped right out at me that a rustic, wooden, open-shelves-underneath type of vanity was what I was really drawn to.  So I’m going to try to make one, but that is for sure a discussion for another time.  I haven’t even come close to starting to build it so if it is an epic fail I might need a hug.  But here’s a console table that vaguely resembles the idea in my head.  Minus all of the living room-esque tchotchkes, of course.

master bathroom vanity inspiration


The other accessories and details have come together piece by piece, pretty much as the vision for the room became more clear in my head.  And true to form, in no real particular order.  Light finishes (polished and brushed nickel), white fixtures (sinks, tub and toilet), with accents of wood tones (the vanity will be stained) and sea inspired colors.  Although, after I tried a Vintage Teal color on the wall it became crystal clear the greens and blues I love so much-needed to be more in the accessory and accent realm than a full on dominating feature.  While all of the beautifully colorful walls catch my eye, what I’m really craving is crisp and clean and white.

And marble.

Throughout this whole process I really couldn’t shake it.  The thought of marble.  It is light without being white.


And it is luxurious without being over the top.


It felt like just the right pop of fancy to mix in with the otherwise rustic and casual feel we wanted.

So I spent hours researching and debating.  Would the natural stone be too high maintenance?  Would I find a good combination of tile to cover the shower pan, walls and the bathroom floor without it feeling all … marble-y?

And then I found it, the Long Octagon.


It has movement and color variation and I had never seen it before.  And since we like to use gray grout on tiled floors (yes, for dirt hiding purposes) the added gray dot in the tile felt like the perfect accent.

And in an email discussion with my contact at The Builder Depot here is what I learned about sealing marble.

“… all marble is porous and it allows water to soak through it.  A sealer from a company like DuPont Stonetech series, maybe their new bullet proof sealer would do a good job.  Then follow the instructions of re-application. However in the shower pan, I would double up and make sure it was covered.

So now you have to decide is sealing what you are willing to do every 2-3 years?  Some are 5 years.  But again in a shower pan, I would do that every 12 months, it would only take 2 minutes to coat it with a sponge.”

Which immediately answered the “is marble too high maintenance for me in a bathroom”, I can definitely handle a few minutes of sealing once a year.

So the deal with me and our marble tiled bathroom was sealed.

Ba dum bum.  😉

What about you … would you use a natural stone in a shower?

PS:  I reached out to The Builder Depot after doing my online research for bathroom tile and I am stoked that they have provided me with the tile for this renovation.

don’t forget about the shampoo and other master bathroom renovation progress reports

Happy Day after Labor Day!!

This post comes to you with all kinds of awkwardly unattractive, in-between process shots (with product affiliate links to boot) of the master bathroom renovation in an effort to spread the good word about shampoo storage in a tiled shower.  That’s right, it’s a bit of a sea of cement board around here accented by the impossible-to-miss red tint of the last layer of waterproofing membrane in the shower.

master bathroom renovation

After we wrapped up the diy shower pan it was time to get all of the other surfaces of the shower ready for some tile.  I feel like I say this at every point, but there are so many different ways to do these things and you can spend weeks reading up on different techniques and tips and warnings.  I’m giving our own process a try, which is a mix of all different things I’ve read (an amalgamation, if you will) and sharing what we’ve learned along the way.

Like adding cement board around a shower bench.

master bathroom renovation

Everyone says to do it and yet these same people are telling you not, under any circumstances, to screw into your pvc shower liner.  Yes, the same liner that is covering our shower bench that is now getting covered by cement board.  How exactly is my cement board supposed to stay attached?  Magic?

I didn’t go overboard but I also didn’t stress too much about screwing into the cement board and pvc liner on our bench to make sure it was all attached securely, making sure to use the proper cement board screws of course.  Another waterproofing step coming up eased any worries I had.  More on that in a minute.

There’s also a technique to use a cage kit of sorts to create your tiled shower curb.  I really couldn’t be bothered, I went cement board with more screws for this, too.

master bathroom renovation

Which ties in nicely to the mesh tape and thinset requirement for every cement board seam.  Including the 1/4″ backer board underlayment I set over the entire floor.

master bathroom renovation

This process gives you plenty of time to contemplate the meaning of life.  This is just one of those jobs that takes longer than you think.  Plan accordingly, you don’t want to be smack dab in them middle of the wet bucket of thinset and dirty tools only to realize you have somewhere to be rightthissecond.  The clean-up process alone takes time.  And:

  • wear gloves, remove your rings and try not to thinset your wedding rings together  😉
  • use an old pair of scissors instead of ruining a good pair to cut the mesh tape, you will get thinset on the handles
  • mix the thinset in small batches (I have wasted so much thinset just because of mixing too much at a time, it’s hard to gauge since you have to add the water first, start in small batches.)
  • have good music playing in the background
  • and if the stars align your husband will get home from work and see you still working so he will feel so inclined to do the dishes, make dinner and have a glass of wine ready for you by the time you finish washing your hands
  • REALLY IMPORTANT:  wash your tools thoroughly after each use, the thinset will stick to them for life if you don’t, and you don’t want that … even if you see the glass of wine ready on the counter as you head out to the sink with thinset covered fingers

Now, our renovation is a little different in the fact that the back side of many of our walls are open, freeing us up to do things a little backwards around here.

For instance, if you don’t have access to the inside of your wall from the other side you will want to install your shower valve and head before installing the cement board on your shower walls.

master bathroom renovation

Or maybe we’re going for a dry shower.  You know, like those decorative dry rivers made of rock that people put in their back yards.  Just the idea of it makes me feel so … what’s the word … oh yeah, dirty.

Yeah.  No.  🙂

Because our shower is pretty much 4 feet square we just bought two full 4′ x 8′ sheets of 1/2″ cement board and hung them up vertically with a few cut outs around the bench.

Which, in a moment of rare serendipity when it comes to DIY home improvements, turned out to be the exact size piece I needed for another little shower feature you do not want to forget about.

I was feeling particularly giddy about things after the day we installed the shower head and valve, which meant we had the plumbing lines hooked up, including the drains, and the shower had her final coat of waterproofing (again, more on this in a sec).

master bathroom renovation

And then I was literally awoken by the thought that same night … where are we going to put the stinking shampoo?  I had forgotten to include an area in the wall to serve as a shelf for our plethora of beauty products (read: shampoo and conditioner).

But, since we have the back of that wall open, creating that little niche was just a matter of measuring (by using our shampoo bottle) and marking a general idea of where it should go.  The main considerations here for location of the niche were those electrical lines and finding one wall stud to use in the framing.

master bathroom renovation

The framing in and leveling it all from the back side was easy since the wall was open.

master bathroom renovation

I drilled a little hole right beside the wall stud to line the approximate desired location of the niche up with the existing stud for easier framing.

master bathroom renovation

With the frame in place I just cut out the cement board with a sawsall and a utility knife, cement board cuts in the same manner that drywall does if you score the mesh along a straight line and then tap it the piece will break along the line and you can then cut it along the break line from the back.

master bathroom renovation

And that piece of cement board I had cut out so it would fit around the bench … it was the perfect fit for the back of the new shampoo niche.  Which I found inexplicably exciting.  I think it’s just the deliriousness of the madness of the current state of our living environment.  Why yes, I am working on the master bathroom from the lovely confines of behind our fridge in our kitchen … which means so much dust in the kitchen I just pretend not to notice.  Even the dogs know not to lick food that drops on the floor in the kitchen up, they will most likely get a clump of cement board instead.  Any little victory just feels like it needs to be celebrated.

master bathroom renovation

More scraps of 1/4″ cement board to cover the inside of the shampoo niche, and more mesh tape and thinset on all the edges, and we’re finally talking about the last waterproofing step.

Redgard, it’s not cheap (about $50 a gallon and I had to buy 2 gallons), but I liked the piece of mind it gave me to just slather on a few coats of it and essentially create a rubbery barrier between what we’ve taken this long to create and the tile that will be installed.

It goes on super easy with a flat trowel or 3/4″ nap roller.

master bathroom renovation

And you know its dry when it turns red.  I applied 2-3 generous coats and used a brush from the dollar store to make sure to cover all of the corners.

master bathroom renovation

A few Redgard tips:

  • use in a well ventilated area, this is no joke, this stuff will make you high
  • Redgard is for use on porous surfaces, I had first put a coat of clear silicone adhesive over all of my screws and I could tell those areas took much longer to dry, probably because the silicone had turned the porous surface into a non-porous surface
  • apply liberally, but don’t leave any goops, it will dry exactly how you leave it, lumps and bumps and all
  • apply two coats in different directions, apparently this makes the “membrane” it creates stronger, the first coat I applied vertically and the second coat I applied horizontally mostly
  • if you’ve created your shower pan like we did you don’t need to cover it entirely with Redgard, just be sure to coat the edge where the floor meets the wall well and spread it evenly, the shower pan is designed for proper drainage if any water finds a way under your tile

And with that we are ever so close to tiling.  Or I may have gotten started already!!

tiling a shower floor

We’ve been waiting for our sinks to arrive (and they just did!) so we can do some math on the height of our vanity to determine exactly where to have the drains and water lines come out of the wall, then we’ll finish those up and get the last piece of drywall (we’ll be using greenboard) up that butts up to the shower right by the shampoo niche.  But I couldn’t resist laying some tile on the floor just to get started.

Now you know what we’re up to this week.  Are you working on any tiling projects?  Did you labor over Labor Day or take it easy?  We were about 80% labor and 20% time with friends … but 100% fun.  I almost can’t stand how excited I am to start to put this room back together.  I wonder if it’s going to turn out at all how I picture it in my head.  🙂

the final steps of the DIY shower pan … finally

Who’s sick of hearing about the DIY shower pan?  :/

There’s not even one lonely comment on the last post about the pvc shower liner.  Yeah, I realize this is a bit much for information about one project but I really did want to create a resource where people could follow from start to finish about the project since I had trouble finding one like that online.  So thanks for bearing with me.  And you can use the red pin it button (you might need to click over to read the post online to see the pin it button) to pin this image and it will link back to the first post about preparation so anyone looking to tackle this can do just that.  Follow along from the beginning that is … in case anyone was thinking something more along the lines of “suffer through these blog posts”.  😉

how to diy a shower pan - instructional tutorial covering all of the steps from start to finish

And let’s celebrate another big step completed!!  I’m so excited to get to tiling and really see this room come together … we’re so close.  And I’m always a little bit nervous that what I envision in my little brain will actually translate to reality.

Now, for this whole shower pan deal, I think one of the main reasons why I didn’t find any one series of tips for this project that really worked for me is because there really are so many different techniques and processes that you can follow.  The minute I found a useful tip and then researched it more became the minute someone else was saying not to do it that way.  I read forums where people who were claiming to be professionals debated every aspect of creating a diy shower pan.  So I decided to do it how it made most sense to me and seemed to be the most practical use of time and resources.

If you’re starting with your wall studs you can get started with this project by checking out our preparation and planning steps, and then creating a preslope and then laying the pvc shower liner.  Now we’re tackling the final step which is the mortar bed over the liner.

Oh, and one more thing … I did every aspect of this project solo.  As in, while I was home alone so I didn’t even have the option to get help if I needed it in a crisis.  One brain of average capacity, two girl hands and three plus hours of an upbeat playlist to keep me going.

diy shower pan liner final steps

Now for the how-to:

Step 1 – Gather you supplies (affiliate links to products we use)

final steps to a diy shower pan

  • 2 foot level
  • tape measure
  • hammer
  • marker
  • two pieces of 2 x 4, one about 12″ long and one about 18″ long (you could use a trowel also)
  • knee pads, we bought a cheap volleyball pair at Walmart a number of years ago and they still work great
  • rubber gloves
  • an empty bucket
  • puppy, optional

Step 2 – Install the screen piece of your three-part adjustable drain and measure the distance from the edge of the drain screen to the wall of your shower that is farthest away.  This is because you are going to want to try to create a level line where you shower pan meets your wall and the longest distance from your drain to your wall will need to have the most amount of slope.

final steps to a diy shower pan

Also measure how high the top of your drain sits up from the shower liner you have installed.

final steps to a diy shower pan

Now, I am super sorry, but there is some math involved here.  The height of your drain is your starting point and the distance to that far wall determines how much of a slope you need, standard is 1/4″ for every foot.  My drain was about 1/2″ high and my distance was about 2 feet.  So I needed to bring my slope to meet the wall about an inch higher than the liner and then angle it down so the depth of my slope came to meet the shower drain.

Step 3 – Determine your slope based on step two and use a marker and your level to indicate a level line around each wall of your shower.

final steps to a diy shower pan

What you want is your line to be level but your slope toward the drain isn’t necessarily going to be the same on each side.  

For the sides that aren’t as far away from the drain the slope is going to be a little more severe.  But better too much slope than not enough.  And the reason you want to aim for a level line is to make tiling easier, if all goes well, we should be able to start our tiling on the wall with our first row of full tiles right on top of the floor tiles.  If we tried to get an even slope and not worry about level we would need to make angled cuts on that first row of tile so they could sit flush to the floor tile.

I vote for more mortar work up front and less tile cutting in the end.  Let’s just hope it works out that way.  🙂

Note of opinion:  Ok, so here is where many professionals differed in opinion.

What comes first the cement board on the walls or the final layer of mortar in the shower pan?

I opted for shower pan first and cement board second.  It was a pretty easy decision because one thing that pretty much every professional agrees on is to tile the shower floor first and then the walls so the water runs down the walls and onto the floor tile and not down the side of the floor tile with potential to creep behind the tile.  With that same theory in mind I opted to complete the shower pan mortar bed first and then hang the cement board so any water that found its way behind my tile and onto my cement board would then trickle down to the top layer of mortar.  If the cement board was installed first then the water would find its way down the liner, which is below the mortar.  All of this is really in preparation for the worst case scenario, a leaky shower, so let’s hope we don’t ever have to test these theories in real life.  🙂

Step 4 – Mix your mortar, 1 part Cement to about 5 parts Sand Mix.  We’re using the exact same products we used here except in a different ratio.  The idea behind this is that this mortar bed will be somewhat porous so if water does creep under your tile it can seep down to your liner and then will head toward your drain thanks to your preslope.  Again, we’re planning for, and hopefully working to prevent, worst case scenario.

Step 5 – Remove your drain screen and make sure you don’t cover up your weep holes while you create your mortar bed.

final steps to a diy shower pan

The arrows are pointing to two of the four weep holes that need to be left open in your drain.  Again with worst case scenario, but if any water finds its way to this point those little weep holes will give it a place to drain.  I found that the innards of a pen worked great to clear our any mortar that had found its way into those weep holes during the process.  I used the exact same process to install this mortar bed as I did to make the preslope.

final steps to a diy shower pan

You can see from the picture that the mortar does kind of muddy up the liner, covering up your level line, so I kept my level close during the whole process and double checked level along the perimeter of the shower pan where I couldn’t see my mark.

I also ran into a little bit of too wet mortar in the end (I hadn’t mixed it well enough) and I was worried that it was so soupy that it would shift before drying … so I did something that would probably make a professional cry … and I just sprinkled on more dry Sand Mix and it absorbed right into the wet mixture.

final steps to a diy shower pan

We’re also getting into the evening with zero natural light so the photo lighting gets a bit wonky.  🙂

Here it is all dry the next day.

diy shower pan liner final steps

And I just took the flat edge of a trowel and scraped it over the top to remove any loose particles or bits that stuck out, just like I did with the preslope.

diy shower pan liner final steps

And we’re finally done with that project!!

Update:  Now that your shower pan is complete check out these master bathroom renovation posts that might come in handy.

A few sheets of cement board, a little extra waterproofing and some detail work and we are going to be ready to tile!

Which is a far cry from where this room started.  This is what used to sit in the exact spot where the shower is now.

old master closet

Paneling … Nevermore.  🙂

upcycling idea – one of a kind picture frame {and for some reason some thoughts on religion}

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about a little upcycling idea around here so today we’re going to pause with the hard-core home improvement and I’m going to start with my first ever thought published on this blog about religion and that is that I don’t really know what I believe.  (How’s that for covering a lot of topics in one opening sentence?)  🙂

If that religion confession makes you uncomfortable I don’t think there’s anything that I can really do about that.

upcycling idea - picture frame

I grew up going to Sunday School and church and I am confirmed in the Protestant church.  But I don’t go to church as an adult, not to say that I never would.  I guess I follow some sort of inner spiritualism that is just within me, and it has seemed to work for me through the years.

With that said, I’m also not offended by religion or talk of God or when others make proclamations of their own beliefs.  To each her own.

And when I first heard the Dodge commercial narrated by Paul Harvey during the 2013 Super Bowl I pretty much stopped in my tracks and then had to watch the video on constant repeat for a few days.


I grew up on a farm.  We are a family of farmers.  It was normal to have to feed the heifers after Christmas dinner.  One year on my birthday we had to corral a bunch of cows that had somehow gotten out of the fenced field.  My summer vacations were spent showing cows at our state and county fairs.


And I know in my core the truth that the commercial speaks.

And still my brother chose to grow up to be a farmer.  To study the business of it at Penn State and excel at it.

And during our vacation to Maine Joel and I became our nephew’s God parents.  Which you might think is odd given my beliefs, or lack there of.  But one thing I do know for sure is that we will always do right by my nephew.  There is no sacrifice too great.  There is no greater purpose than to aid in the upbringing of a kind, generous, contributing member of society.  And gosh darn it we are fun.  🙂

upcycling idea - use old lattice and beadboard to make a one of a kind frame

And somehow my brother and sister-in-law believe in us to do this the best way we know how.  So I wanted to kick it off on the right foot with a little baptism gift for the family.  And what says “spiritual advisor” more than a picture frame made out of ratty old lattice straps and leftover beadboard?!?!

I was inspired by a frame we got for Christmas from one of Joel’s sisters, it’s made from old barn wood out of her in-laws farm, with a 1/4″ piece of plywood attached to the front as the “backing” for the picture and a piece of plexiglass held on by clips holding in the photo.

barnwood picture frame

But I didn’t have any barn wood on hand so here’s what I came up with.

upcycling idea - picture frame

A few months ago, kind of on a whim, I used our sawzall to cut down some old lattice.  And, in one of those moves that makes Joel shake his head I saved all of the pieces.  Come on, it was the perfect shade of weathered wood.  What’s a girl to do?


So I picked the straighter pieces and just laid them out and used a square to mark where to cut them at each end to create a rectangle.

upcycling idea - use old lattice and beadboard to make a one of a kind frame

Measure the height of the slats as they lay beside each other and cut two 1 x 2s (or whatever scrap wood you have on hand) just shorter than the measurement, I used my miter box to make all of the cuts. I also painted mine with leftover paint from our front door paint project.  Totally optional.

upcycling idea - picture frame

Lay the 1 x 2s vertically along the back of the lattice slats, run a bead of glue on the flat side of each 1 x 2 and apply pressure to it all until the glue cures.  These old cinder blocks have come in quite handy since we moved in (remember this?).  You could also nail it together with 5/8″ nails or staples if you wanted to, I didn’t.

upcycling idea - picture frame

Now you can really create anything.  Trace any silhouette image on and cut it out with a jig saw, an anchor for a nautical theme room?  Or paint a silhouette, or use this image transfer technique to create some word art.

This time around I wanted a frame that would work for an old drawing of the farm where we grew up.  So I used a leftover piece of the blue beadboard we installed on the underside of our porch ceiling and glued and clamped that onto the lattice.

upcycling idea - picture frame

I used the same painting technique I used to make the reclaimed wood sign in our guest room for the lettering and cut a piece of plexiglass I found in our closet with all of our frames with a little circular saw with a blade with lots of tiny teeth.  Technical terms here people, please try to keep up.  😉

Actually, this is the exact saw I used and this looks like the blade. (affiliate links)

And a regular drill bit worked to drill 4 holes where I could then use some random old screws to attach it all together.  Please tell me you have something that looks like this because you cannot throw away perfectly good screws.


I think they liked it.  Well, they said they did, but they do have a tendency to be polite … and they hung it above the fireplace so maybe they’re just thinking quick access when they need firewood this winter.

upcycling idea - picture frame

What about you, been upcycling anything these days?

installing a pvc shower liner

This post is part of a complete series explaining how to diy a shower pan from start to finish. Including the framing and prep work, installing the shower liner, building the pan, preslope, installing the drain and tile.

Alrighty, we’re back on track with the shower pan project.  Which is a good thing because the tile is officially on the way.  Which is exciting and nerve racking all at the same time.  I don’t know why.  The tile just seems like such a huge part of the final room it just feels like such a big step.  We are so ready for it, but having it actually on the way reminds me of everything still on the to do list.  So let’s get cracking, er, installing a pvc shower liner.

Now, you guys.  I thought this step was going to be a breeze.  I mean it’s a rectangle piece of plastic and I have a mostly square shower.  Lay, wrap, nail, done. Right?

Not so fast.

how to install a pvc shower liner

This whole liner deal took me about 3 hours from start to finish, including time taken to snap extra photos and an afternoon snack break.  Apparently this task also makes one hungry.  🙂  If you’re looking to learn how to DIY your entire shower pan you might want to start with the preparation and planning steps and then how to create a preslope (and if you even need one) if you haven’t already.  With those steps under our belt its time to tackle the learning curve for how to install a pvc shower liner.

Step 1 – Determining how much liner you need.  Which proved a little tricky for me.  #GoFigure  If you don’t have a bench, this is pretty straight forward. Just add about 1 foot to both the length and width of your shower pan.  So if your shower pan is 3′ x 3′ buy a liner that is 4′ x 4′.  If you have a bench you will want the liner to go up and over the bench and then up the wall again about 6 inches … so you do the math.  🙂  Our shower pan is about 4′ x 4′ with an 18″ high bench and I bought a liner that was 5′ x 7′, and it worked out.

Step 2 – Gather your supplies.

how to install a pvc shower liner

Some say to use an adhesive under your liner, some don’t.  I took out a tub and bath adhesive that we had on hand, but didn’t end up using it.  I figure a plastic liner sandwiched under tile, mortar, the cement shower pan and over another layer of cement might just stay in place.  🙂  Other than that here are some affiliate links to what you’ll need:

Tip!!!  Don’t wear shoes while you do this step.  Then you won’t unexpectedly step on anything and track it onto your new liner and inadvertently puncture it. (And I’ll apologize now for all the bare feet action visible in this post.)

Step 3 – Finish off your curb if you haven’t already and add blocks in between your wall studs. I used a combination of 1 x 4s and 2 x 6s (just scraps we had on hand) to block in between the wall studs.

how to install a pvc shower pan liner

You may remember I had just installed one layer of 2 x 4’s for a curb, so I just nailed in 2 more right on top. How high you need your curb will depend on how large your shower is and how much a slope you’re going to be adding.  Adding 4 1/2″ of curb for our 4′ x 4′ shower should leave us with about 1″ of curb when all is said and done because of the unevenness of our old floor.  The depth of the shower pan adds up quick so I say err on the high side when it comes to the curb.

Step 4 – Lay out your liner over your preslope to see what you’re working with.

how to install a pvc shower pan liner

The rule of thumb is that you want the liner to come up each wall about 6″ and wrap all the way around your curb.  Our local Home Depot only sold a 5′ wide liner so for our 4′ deep shower the liner comes up about 5″ at one and doesn’t wrap to the bottom of the outside of the curb.

I figure, if we’ve got water issues on the “outside” of our shower curb, those problems are bigger than the liner anyway.  🙂

Step 5 – Decide which corner to tackle first.  Can I just tell you, I read my fair share of useless tutorials on this topic.  With tips ranging anywhere from “don’t ever cut the liner”, “just fold it like you’re wrapping a present” and  my favorite “tuck it in between the wall studs at the corner”.

Well, I challenge anyone who has exposed wall studs to check them out and see exactly how many of you have a perfect little gap in the corner to just tuck your pvc liner.

Oh well, this corner was my first victim and in an effort to poke and prod the thicker-than-it-seems liner into the teeny gap I did have I ended up with this.

how to install a pvc shower liner

Far from perfect, but remember you will be installing 1/2″ cement board on top so there’s a little added leeway in the corner for you.  And I didn’t cut the liner, so there’s that little success.

Tip!!!  Nail into the liner as high as possible, just to prevent puncture holes near the base.

Now just keep working your way around the corners as best you can.  I had to do something different for each corner.  For a little play-by-play … this corner came out the worst I think, it was the “fold it like you’re wrapping a present” idea that I tried.  Honestly, the folds create such a bulky look in hind sight I wish I’d just cut it and used the adhesive.  But that’s just me.

how to install a pvc shower liner

I did use the utility knife to cut the corner so it would lay flat on and over the curb.

how to install a pvc shower liner

And here’s how far it comes over the curb.  You can kind of see how bulky it is at the fold in this picture, too.

how to install a pvc shower liner

Tip!!!  Use those bare feet to hold the liner tight down on the preslope while you pull it taught up the wall and in the corners and nail it in.

how to install a pvc shower liner

The corner that just went up around the curb was my first use of the glue.  I tried a different little “fold it like wrapping paper” technique and just didn’t like the bulkiness of it so I made the minimal amount of cuts I could to get it to lay flat.

installing a pvc shower liner

installing a pvc shower liner

And the glue turned out super easy to use.  It comes with the applicator so I just followed the instructions on the can.  Apply to both sides, let dry for one minute before adhering the two pieces together and then hold them tight for about 30 seconds.  My fancy time keeping apparatus was my phone.  🙂

installing a pvc shower liner

installing a pvc shower liner

The other tricky area where I needed to use the glue was on the side of the bench.  The thought I kept in mind was to always overlap the pvc liner so the piece on the top was facing away from the source of the water.  So I didn’t have the side panel of the liner come up over the piece on the top of the bench, I tucked it underneath. Going with the theory that if water somehow gets under the tile on the bench and trickles down the side it will go all the way to the slope of the pan and to the drain and not somehow sneak into the glued seam.

I started but cutting a weird shaped piece of the pvc liner so it would bend around the edges of the bench. The two hanging top flaps (marked with an x) got cut off after I took the picture, I was thinking they didn’t need to be cut off entirely.  I was wrong.

installing a pvc shower liner

Then, just one edge at a time, I glued.  The top was pretty easy to tuck under but the side inside the shower was the toughest.  You can see the top is already done here as I’m gluing the side piece.

installing a pvc shower liner

Step 6 – Then all that’s left to do is cut out the hole for the drain.  Just feel for the drain and with your utility knife cut an X over each bolt head and in the drain.

installing a pvc shower linerThen you can push the pvc shower liner right over the bolts and tighten them once you have added the second part of your adjustable drain.  And then just finish cutting out the drain.

installing a pvc shower liner

Getting this step complete feels like such a success.  If you have your drain pipes hooked up you could even check for water tightness now by filling your shower pan with water and letting it sit overnight.  We don’t have our drain lines hooked up so we’re going with the theory that we trust the glue to work and I didn’t puncture the liner.  🙂

how to install a pvc shower liner

There’s only one more step in this shower pan ordeal and then we’ll be ready for some cement board and finishing up the drywall in the room.

Many of you have said you’ll be tackling your own shower pan project eventually.  If you have any more specific questions just let me know.  Some of the details are easy to overlook when typing it up.  Like that back corner where the bench meets the back wall … I actually did that corner twice.  I noticed after I took this picture that it was doing the bulky thing …

installing a pvc shower liner

So I removed that 2 x 6 I had added that is kind of hidden behind the arrow in the picture and tucked the liner in there and then added the 2 x 6 back.  And this picture reminds me that it was quite a decision process to figure out where to cut around the bench and not totally ruin the liner.  So yeah, just shout if you’re doing this, sometimes it helps just to talk it through.

Update:  The shower pan series is complete.  Here are the other posts that might come in handy if you’re making your own shower pan.

And to see what direction we’re headed with the tile just click here.

Here’s the supplies list again to get you started:

10 beginner plumbing tips everyone should know

Hey guys!  We actually just got back from 10 days away, up to Maine visiting family and completely unwinding without cell or internet for a few of those days. Sorry for the crickets in the comments and on social media.  Speaking of crickets, we didn’t really see much wildlife on our vacation (that transition works, right?), which is a bummer because I was really hoping to see a moose because I haven’t for many years and everyone has been talking about seeing a bunch of them this year.

We didn’t even catch any fish on our fishing trips.  Well, Joel did catch something that my brother declared “the largest minnow I’ve ever seen”.  But I don’t think that really counts.  But check out how beautiful it was, the entire lake was like glass … maybe the fish could see us coming.  🙂


Now that we’re back I’m geared up to jump right back into things because our tile is coming, the bathroom window is ready and I’m supposed to be making a vanity.  I want to kick things in high gear to get this room in working order already.  We’ll see how the project and blog balance goes.  And we’ll be patient with each other along the way. K?  🙂

So in addition to the DIY shower pan I’ve been working on we’re pretending to be plumbers around here.  And by “we” I totally mean “Joel”.  Determined to not let the lack of responsiveness from an actual plumber derail our progress, Joel jumped right in and took over.  I am an hesitant active assistant … when he needs one … but I have plenty to keep me busy when he’s maneuvering around the crawl space, and when I don’t, I do my best to look busy so I don’t get roped into any of that mess.  😉

how to cap a water pipe in the crawl space

As an added bonus he often forgets he has the headlamp on so I am quick to make fun.  I know.  I’m awesome.

But seriously, I am so impressed.  He is calculated, he takes the time to research and has spent more time in the plumbing aisle in HD than is normal for any one lifetime.  So much so that every time we go back the workers are all “Hey, you’re back!”  and we’re all “You know it!”.  It doesn’t hurt that one of the managers in our local store is a plumber with 20+ years of experience.  We’ve picked his brain on every aspect of this project.  And have gotten a crash course in some key beginner plumbing tips that everyone should seriously know.

As an aside, just to prove that we tend to just hang out at HD, I even fit in a little workout on a recent trip.


Ha, I was doing a little push up challenge with a few workout buddies where we have to do 10 push ups whenever we get a text … it was only a matter of time before I was caught in that plumbing aisle.  🙂

And now for the tips, in no particular order, because they will all seriously change your world if you ever want to tackle a little plumbing project.

1 – PVC and CPVC are two different materials entirely.  Find out what you have and be sure!  More tips on that here.

plumbing tips everyone should know
2 – CPVC is better for hot water.  Something to keep in mind if you’re ever working with your water lines.  It does create a little extra thinking but running CPVC for hot water and PVC for cold water is how the professionals do it.  #JustAskJoel  😉

3- PVC measures diameter from the inside of the pipe and CPVC measures from the outside of the pipe.  This tripped us up a bit before we got this tip.  Because 1/2″ PVC pipes look like 3/4″ pipes, but it’s because the 1/2″ measurement is taken from the actual opening of the pipe.

plumbing tips everyone should know

4 – These cutters exist, they work on both PVC and CPVC, get them.  In Joel’s words “game changer”.  Let’s just say trying to cut that stuff with a hack saw in the confines of the crawl space is not fun or easy, at all.

5 – So not only do you have to select between PVC and CPVC, but when you get into all of the PVC you’ll notice there seem to be two of everything.  Good. Ness. Why are there two of the exact same thing?  Ah ha.  They are not the exact same thing.  On the packaging you’ll see it’s either DWV or Schedule 40.  Super clear now right?! Um, no.  This is huge.  DWV PVC can only be used for drains, waste or vents!  They are not meant for the pressurized running water lines … that is what Schedule 40 is for.  And I’m pretty sure that was our demise in that old bathroom in Maryland, trying to use (the cheaper option) DWV PVC for the water lines.

plumbing tips everyone should know
6 – Now, not only do you have to be clear on what kind of pipe you are using, you have to use the right glue for that kind of pipe.  The glue labels are very clear what they will work for, but if you don’t know to look you might just grab the wrong one.  Don’t make that mistake.  That would be insanely frustrating … I would imagine.  More on that in this post about how to cap a water pipe.

plumbing tips everyone should know
7 – Always use a primer (or acetone) before gluing, inspectors may actually look for the purple color of the primer during an inspection so don’t skip this step, even though it seems weird to have to prime plastic.

8 – When in doubt, add a shut off valve.  We’ve had to shut off the water to our entire house multiple times in this process because we either didn’t have a shut off valve close to where we needed to work or they were non-functional.  I may be on record saying “Too bad the water is shut off, I really wanted to wash the dishes … said me never.”  But after a grimy DIY day sometimes all you can really think about is a shower … and then you have to wait an hour for your newly glued pipes to dry.  Shut off valves seem very luxurious to us right now.  Add them.  We like these.

9- Definitely check your local codes but here are some guidelines we got from a professional plumber.

  • Shower drains have to be 2″ diameter all the way to main line
  • Toilet drains can be 3″ or 4″, but why take your chances, we’re going 4″
  • Tub and sink drains can be 1 1/2″ under them but should be 2″ back to the main
  • For sinks, basically run the 2″ line to the wall and when you transition the pipe to run up the wall convert it to 1 1/2″.
  • All toilets need something called a clean out (picture worst case scenario and that will explain that) as well as a vent pipe run up the exterior of your house.  If you have two toilets near each other they can have the same clean out and vent.

10 – I know it may seem that we are underestimating the work of trained plumbing professionals, but we’re really not.  Have the number of a reliable plumber (one who will show up on nights, weekends, even Christmas morning) handy.  We didn’t have any luck here in Key West so I actually called a plumber we’ve used regularly in Maryland.  He answers all of our questions and even let us send him a sketch of our new layout so he could itemize exactly what we need to do. It’s actually one of my biggest tips when it comes to becoming a DIYer, rely on the professionals whenever necessary.  Their inside knowledge is invaluable … I always ask “Is there anything I should know that I’m probably not thinking of?”  Because there’s always something.

10+ beginner plumbing tips everyone should know from

Have you ever tackled your own plumbing?  Or learned a new DIY skill out of necessity?  Or just think we’re crazy?  That’s ok, too.  🙂

how to DIY a shower pan preslope {and do you even need one?}

This post is part of a complete series explaining how to diy a shower pan from start to finish. Including the framing and prep work, installing the shower liner, building the pan, preslope, installing the drain and tile.

If you missed all of the preparation and planning steps, stop on over here first to get started.

Now, in prep for this I may have watched every You Tube video and read every tutorial known to man on the topic of how to DIY a shower pan preslope.  I even asked some questions on the Sakrete blog, spent an entire afternoon in Home Depot getting some tips and gathering my supplies … and I still messed it up twice.

Here are a couple of disclaimers

  • For every person who said the preslope is the #1 most important step of a DIY shower pan someone told me I should start my placing my PVC liner right over my subfloor and skip the preslope step.
  • For every person that said I needed to lay felt underlayment over my subfloor someone else looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they used a felt underlayment.
  • And in everything I found online the exact products they used were not listed (which was the cause of my initial demise) and when you go to the home improvement store and ask for “deck mud” or “shower pan mortar” you will be amazed at the number of differing suggestions you will receive.
  • All-in-all, this is just what worked for me and the specific products I used.  I know there are a bajillion ways to do this that could work.  Don’t judge, but I DIYed a tile shower about 6 years ago without a preslope and with regular grout sealing we have had no issue.  #KnockOnWood
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY:  If you visit that Sakrete blog and read that the Sand Mix is made especially for shower pans and choose to not mix it with real mortar and have the same issues I had I reserve the right to say “I told you so”.  I’m just sayin’.  And I know it says it right on the package.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

Save yourself the heartache, and the time, and the heavy drinking.  And seriously, if you choose to skip the preslope all together I will not judge.  I mean, the DIY Network instructions don’t even include a preslope … and they are a whole TV network … about DIY.  Here’s a little diagram care of Oatey (the company who makes the PVC liner) that helps illustrate where we are going to end up.

how to DIY a shower pan The purpose of the slope in a shower pan is to encourage all water toward the drain.  Under the tile and thin set is a sloped mortar base that creates the slope for you to lay your tile.  Under that slope is the PVC liner which is on top of your preslope.  Seriously, if you’ve got water getting under all that tile and cement and PVC lining you’ve got bigger issues than a little preslope.  🙂

But if you are going to start with a preslope, here is the how-to.

1.  Start with a solid, clean and properly supported shower floor.  And be sure to tackle all of the prep steps first.

2. Gather your supplies.

how to DIY a shower pan supplies

  • 2 foot level
  • two pieces of 2 x 4, one about 12″ long and one about 18″ long
  • knee pads, we bought a cheap volleyball pair at Walmart a number of years ago and they still work great
  • rubber gloves (not shown, but totally needed)
  • an empty bucket (not shown, this will make sense in a minute)
  • trowel with at least one flat edge
  • everything else is just for show  🙂 … but this does show all three parts of the adjustable drain we used and the cement board screws

3. Mix 1 part Mortar to about 3 parts Sand Mix.  This is where I failed miserably the first two attempts.  Sand Mix alone did not work for me.  I know the packaging says it will, and their blog says it does, and maybe I just mixed it too dry (which is why I tried it twice, to mix it wetter the second time) but it didn’t work.  It didn’t work so much that it literally only took me about 5 minutes with my hammer to break it all up to get back to my subfloor.  That photo is here.

how to DIY a shower pan The plumber I consulted with over 20 years experience said it’s like mixing cake ingredients without a recipe. Knowing my skilz in the kitchen I knew I was doomed.  But, it worked out.  I liked using this rake thing to mix, so much easier than a shovel because it didn’t try to move all of the heavy mixture, but I would make sure to scoop up any dry mix from the bottom of the mix with a regular spade shovel, too.

how to DIY a shower pan

The packaging says to use about 5 1/2 quarts per bag, but knowing that I wanted my mixture to form a ball without crumbling in my hand I just winged the water thing.  So many tutorials say to not add too much water and make it soupy, and that is right but the plumber said a more detrimental problem is not enough water because it won’t bind.  It kind of looks like wet beach sand when it’s ready.

how to DIY a shower pan

4.  Shovel a few scoops of the mixture into the shower area and get to work.  I used the shorter 2 x 4 and my hands most of the time to get the mixture into the right position and pack it tight.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

From this starting corner I just worked my way clockwise around the shower.  I found it easiest to pack the outside edges (which will be the thickest because of the slope) by placing the 2 x 4 right up against the curb and hitting it a few times with a hammer.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

It took me a minute to remember to put those knee pads on, but I suggest just doing it first.  🙂

If you get to any areas that, when packed down tight, are dips in the preslope …

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

Just crumble some more mixture right over it and tap it in tight with the 2 x 4.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

And you can see there that the idea is to bring the preslope down to match the height of the drain flange that you’ve installed.

Tip!!!  Be sure to clear those bolts on that drain flange of any mortar mixture when you are done, screw and unscrew them a bit so you are sure they are still functioning properly and don’t get covered in mortar.

5. Check your slope as you go.  If you have a corner where your 2 x 4 won’t fit, set it on your short 2 x 4 piece to check the slope.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

You’re goal is about a quarter bubble out of the center line … feel free to attempt perfection, I was happy with a varying scale really.  🙂

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

6.  For areas that need to be shaved down a bit the 2 x 4 works surprisingly well.  You don’t really want any peaks or valleys in this layer, as straight of a surface from point A to point B.  And here is where the empty bucket comes in.  If your large mixture bin is not within reach, as mine wasn’t, it was handy to have an empty bucket (I actually used an old rusty paint tray) to just dump excess mix.

Imagine I’m sitting on the bottom right of this picture and pulling the 2 x 4 toward to DIY a shower pan preslopeAnd then dumping the extra bits here.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

This whole process, from mixing the mortar and sand mix to the final tap of it in place in my shower took about an hour and half for our 16 square foot shower.  And I used 1 1/2 bags of sand mix and 1/2 bag of mortar.

7.  Let dry overnight.

8.  This is totally an ad lib step.  When I went to check on it about 17 hours after I completed it, so not fully cured but good and hard, I noticed the little specs of mix that had dried around some parts of the shower pan. So I took the flat edge of a metal trowel and just scraped it across the entire thing.  Since it was cured I could even scrape out a few areas that weren’t exactly flat.  Definitely not any major changes, but it felt nice to be able to smooth it out even more.

In this picture I’m scraping the trowel away from me.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

And then I used our shop vac to clean it up and I was thrilled to be officially done with this step a full week later than I had expected.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

Next up comes the PVC liner and then the mortar base and we’ll be ready for the tile.  Which is on schedule to arrive next week!

Update:  The shower pan series is complete.  Here are the other posts that might come in handy if you’re making your own shower pan.

And we’re installing Carrera Marble Subway Tile in the shower with a matching long octagon tile (that I had never seen before and am totally in love with) on the floor, just click here to check it out.

I am soooo excited for that step.  But we still need to:

  • tape and mud the cement board seams on the floor
  • install cement board around the shower walls
  • rough in the plumbing (shower, tub, toilet and sinks)
  • finish the greenboard and drywall on the rest of the walls
  • finish framing in the new pocket door to the master bedroom, which needs to be done before we
  • frame in the walls to the closet so we can
  • lay cement board in there (and tape and mud that) because we are laying the same tile throughout the two spaces

Update – That bathroom is complete, check the rolling door (with windows!) we installed here, the DIY wood vanity and the reclaimed wood framed mirrors.

I know that’s just a partial list, but it’s all the brain can put together right now.  🙂  It’s hard to believe this all started about 2 month ago!  We feel like progress is steady but things just take time.  And we try hard to fit in a fair share of fun and not pressure ourselves to work on this old house project every second of down time we have.  Lately that has meant me getting out of the house sometimes, just to get out … it’s hard to really relax when you’re sitting amid the madness.

Here’s the supplies list again so you can get started!

this post contains affiliate links

upcycling idea – a pallet project from the book!

Hey guys!!

Today is a little break from the master bathroom renovation project to share an actual tutorial from the book!

upcycling idea - diy pallet slat flag

This is not like the pallet project fail I shared already.  This is one of those upcycling ideas for a pallet that is simple to assemble, requires remedial painting skills (so I can do it!) and makes a huge statement.  I love the rustic, aged feel of it, like it has weathered many a storm.

upcycling idea - diy pallet slat flag

I couldn’t resist taking it outside to the front porch.  You might remember work on the exterior siding, trim, painting and our new blue front door all happened in between my mad dash to create 35+ pallet projects for the book.  Available for pre-order now here.

I would now like to draw your attention to the still alive plants on the porch!  That succulent on the table (that needs to be refinished since random rain sprays are creating water spots) is holding on for dear life.  But two of the three others that are in the pot on the aqua chair are thriving!  Let’s not talk about the third one.  🙂  And that viney thing on the church pew must be impossible to kill.  Hearty little guy.  If you know what it’s called please let me know because clearly I need more of them.

The pallet slat flag is the perfect addition to the front porch just in time for Labor Day.

upcycling idea - diy pallet slat flag

As part of my contributor series on I’m actually sharing the tutorial over there today.  So hope on over to the post and check it out here.

And if you’re looking for a renovation update, click on over here to get caught up.  If you want to pre-order, the book is now available here.

how to DIY a shower pan {preparation and planning}

how to diy a shower pan - instructional tutorial covering all of the steps from start to finish

Hey guys!  I took a little blog vacation last week that started off with my 38th birthday, a Red Sox baseball game (and win!) and meeting Nene Leakes.  And ended with me declaring victory over the learning curve of how to DIY a shower pan.  Thank goodness.

how to DIY a shower pan preslope

Other title contender’s for this post include “third time’s a charm” and “let’s talk about sand mix, baby”.

As in … let’s talk about sand mix, baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be … let’s talk abouuuuuut sand mix.

If we could start with the bad things …

how to DIY a shower pan

You know when you think you know how to do something. Then you research it. Then you think you “really” know how to do something. Then you keep researching just to be sure.   And it turns out there are a lot of “right” ways to do something. And you’re more confused than when you started.

Yeah, that’s the story of me and my search for how to DIY a shower pan. I started out really confident, because I’ve actually DIYed a shower pan before that we then tiled. But I always wished I’d put more of a slope toward the drain in it so I started by researching the amount of slope to add.

1/4″ for every foot is the standard amount of slope to add to a shower pan. Easy.

But then I read about preslope. And the use of a liner, which some say is “sooo 1970s”. And the use of these corner clips, so you don’t have to cut the liner, which my local HD doesn’t carry in stock, but the do carry this shower liner adhesive. (aff links)

So, for anyone getting ready to tackle this project I would say do a fair share of research and devise a plan that you feel comfortable with. And here’s what I did, which is just an amalgamation (because I’ve been dying to use that word in a blog post) of a lot of different techniques I read about, watched videos for and got advice about from a plumber with 20+ years of experience.  Who I reached out to only after I had messed it up twice. Ugh.

how to DIY a shower pan

Step 1: Preparation

Before you’re ready for any work on the shower pan liner be sure you have your shower area prepped and ready.

1. Make sure you have enough support under your house for all of the added weight of the mortar and tile.  A good gauge is if you’re floor joists are only 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 you should beef them up with added support.

2. Make sure you have a solid 3/4″ subfloor.  We have 3/4″ oak flooring but there were a few gaps that I didn’t like so I added a layer of 1/4″ cement board right on top of it (after I built the bench).  More on that when we talk about tiling because we actually laid 1/4″ cement board over the entire bathroom floor, set with a little thinset and screwed in with cement board screws.

how to DIY a shower pan

3. Create a “curb” around the surround of your shower.  You will most likely want the curb to be 4 1/2″ high (3 pressure treated 2 x 4s stacked on top of each other) but for this first step I just attached one 2 x 4 directly to our subfloor with my framing nailer.  (I have this one and LOVE it.)  If your shower is larger you might need to add the full curb here as well as add boards in between your wall studs so you have the proper surround to hold in the shower pan mortar up to the appropriate 1/4″ per 1′ slope you will be creating.  And I will want to come check out your extra-large shower for sure!

4. If you’re adding a bench in your shower now is the time to frame it.  I just used pressure treated 2 x 6s and 2 x 4s we had left over from wall framing projects and created two boxes.

framing a shower bench

(You can see I didn’t necessarily do these steps in any particular order.  You can see the gaps in between the floor boards in that picture above since we hadn’t added the cement board yet.)

Our bench is not large, and was really Joel’s idea as a nice feature suggesting it’d be a nice stoop for my leg shaving.  Seems like someone might want me to shave those legs more frequently.  TMI? #BlondeHairIsAwesome  It’s not often we get so exhausted in the shower we need a sit break, but it really does seem like a nice, upgraded feature.  After I snapped this next shot I did add another 2 x 4 where that red arrow is.

framing a shower bench

5. Drill your drain hole.  You will need an adjustable drain and drill your hole large enough so the flange sits flat on your subfloor, about 4″ in diameter.  Add a little caulk under the flange and attach only that one part of the drain to your subfloor.

adjustable shower drain

adjustable shower drain

Tip!!!  If you attach your drain pipe here be sure to plug up the drain with a sponge or something so nothing falls in there.

6. Now clean your area thoroughly.  Sweep, shop vac, hand mop, toothbrush … whatever you got.

Now you’re ready for a little preslope.  

We are going to thoroughly discuss the whats and what nots when it comes to the preslope and quite frankly it’s just too much information to tack on right here. So that’s coming to you soon.  Hold onto your hats!

Update:  The shower pan series is complete.  Here are the other posts that might come in handy if you’re making your own shower pan.

And to see what direction we’re headed with the tile just click here.

And please tell me you’ve messed up a project, the same project, more than once.  It feels crappy doesn’t it. But to overcome it.  It’s kind of the best, no?!?!

Pretty Handy Girl and I, were we separated at childhood?

Hi, my friends!  I’m going to go unplugged this week and enjoy a little staycation that is all about progress on the house but I have something fun for you today so grab a cocktail coffee.  A fellow “hardcore” DIYer and I got together a little bit ago to put together a fun little Q&A session.  You see, I was talking to Brittany, aka Pretty Handy Girl not too long ago on the phone and it was like I was talking to a long-lost sister.  So many stories of our upbringing were similar, learning DIY from our dads and working all different kinds of projects growing.  Oh yeah, and living in a house that was always “in process” … kind of like we continue to do as adults.  🙂

Here I am at about 1 1/2 years old just rocking in a little rocking chair that I’m pretty sure my grandfather found at the dump, on a plywood subfloor in front of our unfinished walls and trim with pants on that were way too big because they were probably my brother’s.


I reached out to my mom and had her scour through some old photos to see what she could find, this one doesn’t prove anything other than we had awesome carpet.  And I’ve always thought my brother was pretty cool.  And I’m a natural blonde.  🙂


Looking through old pictures is seriously fun.  Did you know that I grew up on a farm and showed cows at fairs all around New England through high school?  Brittany and I don’t have that in common.  But I still display some of the “trophies” around the house, like the mugs that are in our guest bedroom.


So here’s the deal, we put together a list of questions to answer to see how much we really do have in common.  To see my answers, and more childhood pictures (like the time my brother and I tried to make a boat) you have to go to Brittany’s blog today.  But first, read her answers here so you can compare.  Enjoy.  🙂separated-at-childhood

Q. Sweet tooth or Salty Snacks?
A. Sweet tooth for sure! But, I have an excuse. My Dad was born and raised in Hershey, PA, so I consider myself a chocoholic to the core. I must have a certain amount of chocolate coursing through my system at all times. LOL.

Q. Coffee or Tea?
A. Coffee! Iced Coffee with creamer is my favorite.

Q. What was your first DIY project?
A. My first DIY project was staining a little IKEA drawer box. I ended up calling the fire department because I could smell gas. Turns out you aren’t supposed to use oil-based stains inside a closed up apartment that has a gas stove. I was fine, but was warned by the fire department.

Q. Who encouraged you or where did you get the empowerment to take on your first project?
A. I grew up in a house that was always under construction. My Mom and Dad included me and my sisters in any DIY project that they were working on (including our vegetable garden.)

About Pretty Handy Girl

I grew up thinking that everyone lived in their home while they took off the roof and added a second floor. Now I realize that’s crazy! But, I’m still up for a good old renovation as long as the roof remains in tact…unless Mother Nature says otherwise.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Were you a tomboy or a princess as a child?
A. Seriously? I was and still am a tomboy. I wore overalls most of my childhood and when I could get away with it, no shirt.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Favorite power tool?
A. My drill is my right hand man (or should I say woman.) But, I love my Makita Sliding Compound Miter Saw! I’d cry if it was ever stolen.

Q. What was your first tool?
A. My father-in-law bought me a cordless drill for Christmas one year. I had asked for one on my wish list. He must have thought I was crazy, but he bought it anyway and I couldn’t have been happier!

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Can you sing and/or dance?
A. NEITHER! Well, unless you count singing in the shower to myself or dancing if I’ve had one too many drinks (which is actually just one drink.)

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Can you cook?
A. I can, but I really don’t like to. I prefer to spend my time on projects that can be enjoyed for years to come. When I’ve completed a meal, it disappears within 30 minutes. Or worse yet, my kids whine and complain and it sits on the table until it’s a petrified cold mess. I think my boys will be food critics when they grow up.

Q. Is your husband thrilled to have a Ms. Fix It or emasculated?
A. He’s thrilled! He is super business savvy and smart with math, but not very handy.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Do you have any memories or qualities from your childhood that foretold your future as a DIY Rockstar?
A. I used to dream about making an elaborate playhouse using all the scraps of wood my parents had leftover from their projects. I remember dreaming about this structure multiple times and always being upset when I woke up to find it was a dream.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Favorite way to relax?
A. Get a full body massage or watch really awful reality TV. Reality TV is so mindless and completely shallow, it helps turn my overactive brain to mush.

Q. Guilty pleasure reading?
A. People magazine. I buy one copy every year when we go to the beach. I have to admit I don’t know who half of the younger celebrities are anymore because I rarely go to the movies or watch much TV.

Q. If you could choose one paint color for your whole house what would it be?
A. Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White (because I can pair any color with it.) Bring on the bold accessories!

Q. What was your biggest surprise in a DIY Project.
A. When we were finally building back the kitchen after our leak and discovered several studs that had been consumed by termites. That was NOT a good day.

Q. Any regrets in a project?
A. I regret hiring a tile setter to tile our mudroom with faux slate tiles. There were 13 different printed patterns and he managed to put the same tiles side-by-side in THREE places!!! I usually regret it when I hire out because no one pays attention to the details like I do.

Q. First car?
A. A little red Honda CRX two seater. I bought it used and worked my tail off to pay it off in 8 months. It was a manual transmission and got THE BEST GAS MILEAGE! I loved that car.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. First pet?
A. I had hamsters growing up, plus we had a labrador, a golden retriever and two collies (one dog at a time.)

About Pretty Handy Girl

When my husband and I moved into our first town house, we adopted an Australian Shepherd. She was our baby before we had kids and I used to train with her on agility courses. She had the last laugh though because she only worked for cooked chicken or liver.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Favorite musician?
A. Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson.

Q. If you had to flee the state and live anywhere, where would you go?
A. If it was just across a state line, I’d move back to Charlottesville, VA. I lived there for two years. It fit me and my personality like a glove. If I committed a crime and had to flee the country, I’d move to the countryside in England, maybe near our friends in Ilkley.

Q. Are you bi-lingual?
A. I know enough Spanish to figure out how to ask: “Dondé esta el bano? (Where is the bathroom?)” and name all the primary colors: Rojo, naranja, amarillo, verde, azul, morado, negro, blanco. Yeah, that will get me far. LOL.

Q. Is there something your readers don’t know about you? Something that might surprise them?
A. Hmmm, that’s a good question. I don’t talk about religion much, but I am Unitarian Universalist. If you don’t know what that is, the best way to describe UU is it’s a choose your own religion religion. We study all religions and pick pieces of each that fit our own personal belief system. UUs are also big environmentalists. As a child, I was brought up in a Quaker church (no that doesn’t mean we drove a horse and buggy, you’re thinking of the Amish.) Quakers are non-violent and often have a quiet wordless service.

Okay, and I also have one confession to make. I never get manicures. It’s just a waste of time and money since I use my hands so much. Because of this fact, I have been known to photoshop a hang nail and ugly cuticles in my tutorials. I know, I’ve lost your respect, I’m sorry ;-(.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Any tattoos or piercings?
A. I added a second hole in both ears in high school without my parents permission. Such a rebel! Then, I had my belly button pierced when I was in art school, but I had to take it out because it never healed.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Did you go to college, if so what major?
A. I graduated with a BFA in Illustration from University of the Arts. Plus, I minored in Art Therapy. I can honestly say I might have been in the minority in terms of appearance because I didn’t have wacky hair or facial piercings.

Q. Biggest risk you ever took?
A. Skydiving from an airplane at 10,000 feet. It was a gift from my husband before we were married. If he was trying to get rid of me, it didn’t work. Now we’re married with two young boys who are equally adventurous.

About Pretty Handy Girl

Q. Is there anything you refuse to DIY?
A. Yes, I don’t get on the roof or clean the gutters. It’s not that I’m afraid of heights (as witnessed by my skydiving antics), but the consequences of falling are too serious and I don’t want to leave my children motherless.

Q. What DIY project are you most proud of?
A. My kitchen! It took me 13 months to complete, but I did the majority of the work myself. And I kept my chiropractor in business!

About Pretty Handy Girl

That was a lot of fun.


I think that was sooo, fun!  Now that you know the scoop about Brittany head over to to read my answers and see how much we really do have in common!

And as a fun bonus for our readers, Duluth Trading Company (the clothing company that creates clothes as tough as DIY gals) has graciously donated a $100 Gift Card. You can use the money to dress just like Brittany and me! Or purchase whatever you like from Duluth Trading Company.


Enter to win by using the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions: Winners will be selected at random using Rafflecopter. Entries must be received by Monday, August 4th, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. Contest open to Continental US residents only. Must be an adult aged 18 and older. Winner will be notified by Wednesday, August 6th 2014 via email. Winner must reply to email within 2 days of receiving the notice. Please be sure you have as an acceptable email address.
Prize will be fulfilled by Pretty Handy Girl and mailed via USPS. Pretty Handy Girl cannot be held responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged en route.

Good luck!

10+ 2 light vanity light options – by popular demand, because you guys are smarter than me

Ok, seriously.  I was really hung up on the vanity lighting thing and you guys helped me put it all in perspective.  Like immediately.  Funny how that happens, right?!?!

I really, really, really wanted two lights, but for some reason talked myself into that being too much for the small space.  But the comments about it looking like a “cheaper alternative” to go with only one and the input to “pick out the mirrors first” (Well, duh … why didn’t I think of that!) got me over this little hump.  All of the insight and comments are right here and would be very helpful for anyone trying to make a similar decision.

stylish 2 light vanity light options

With my new objective in mind, a 2 light vanity light (we will be going with 2 mirrors, but more on that another time), I headed back out into the world wide web and, can I just tell you, so much easier to search with a more specific goal.  Oh, you know, like I recommended when we talked about narrowing down all of the choices. #ShoulaTakenMyOwnAdvice

So here are some options that have caught my eye.

1 – I am kind of infatuated with brass right now, I think because it feels nautical.

2 light vanity light

2 – This one feels nautical to me too.

2 light vanity light

3 – I really like the look of the hardware on this one.

2 light vanity light

4 – I love the simplicity of this one, it could really let all of the other elements in the room shine.  (Not meant to be a lighting pun, but kind of seems like one.) Ba dum bum.

2 light vanity light

5 – This one is very similar but with added glass vessels around each bulb.

2 light vanity light

6 – This one really caught my eye, but I can’t put my finger on exactly why.

2 light vanity light

7 – This one is very similar to the one light option I showed you here.

2 light vanity light

8 – I love the shape of this one and the nautical feel.

2 light vanity light

9 – The shape of this one is so cool I can hardly stand it, but I just wish it wasn’t black.

2 light vanity light

10 – I think it’s the shape of the glass of this one that really draws me in.

2 light vanity light

11 – Seriously, an insulator light!?!?  I’m in love, add it to the list of reasons why I need to find me some insulators.

2 light vanity light

Now, here’s the thing.  I’ve already picked the ones we’re going to get!!!  Which one do you think it is?  And which one is your favorite?  Because the chances of us having the exact same taste on everything is, well, let’s just say rather unlikely.  🙂

And, here’s the other thing, every single one of these options is from Shades of Light.  After all of this searching and deciding and checking out option after option I found the lights for our master bathroom.  So I reached out to Shades of Light (here are all of the bathroom vanity light options where each of these can be found) and said something like “I have fallen head over heels for your lighting options and in particular have picked out a 2 light vanity light that will be the perfect addition to our new master bathroom (and I may have sent along some obligatory ugly bathroom renovation photos) and I would love you forever if we could work together.”  Some might have found this a little forward, but they said YES and I thank them for providing two vanity lights for our renovation.

Too bad you’re not a mind reader and you don’t know which one it is … or are you?  🙂

can we just talk about making decisions for a second?

Hey you guys!!  Hope your week is starting off well.  I feel like we’ve made it through the survival of the fittest stage (and we survived!) of the master bathroom renovation and one thing I’ve realized is that long after the physical tiredness and soreness fades the mental struggles continues to be challenging and around every corner a new decision has to be made.  And it hurts my brain at times.

And because I don’t want to be the only one in “pain”, I’m going to share some current pictures of the bathroom that continue to be extraordinarily ugly and may hurt your eyes.  The lighting is terrible, the shadows are everywhere and oh yeah, the room is still an overall mess.  We can suffer together.  You’re welcome.  😉

master renovation paint

I white washed (with a heavy dose of white and a light dose of wash) the wood slat walls and tried a dark turquoise color on the new wall that will enclose the washer and dryer on the other side.  The color is still drying in this picture.  I also framed in and made a wood slat door for the little storage area we’re keeping above the washer and dryer.  Should I white wash that door, too?

Last week I made my attempt to narrow down the overwhelming abundance of options we have available to us in the realm of fixtures and finishes.  I’m happy to report decisions are being made, and that stage is incredibly fun. But there are so many more unavoidable decisions we have to make as we move along.  #SoMuchThinking

How high should we make the vanity?  Standard height is about 32″, should we lower it because I want vessel sinks?  But 32″ already seems low.  Is 32″ really a standard vanity height?

How high should we make the half walls?  We need one between the toilet and the tub and one between the shower and the vanity.

How much width do you need for a toilet nook?

master renovation toilet nook

This is our new toilet nook.  We made it as wide as we could, you can see how the half wall comes right up the side of the window.  The new window is ordered, it will be about a 60″ x 60″ side roller … which means natural light.  🙂 The green tape that you can kind of see on the floor in the toilet nook (just in front of the wood slat we removed from the floor to look for floor joists as we start to plan for plumbing … ’cause we’re going to be plumbers) is where the front of the toilet seat will be.

How high do you hang a vanity light?  Is it a certain distance from the floor or a certain distance above the vanity?  Should the light overlap the mirror?

By the way, you guys gave GREAT advice on the vanity lighting question, the tip to pick the mirrors first really put things into perspective (Thanks Eryn!!!)  I hadn’t really put much thought into the mirrors and was picturing one large one, but am now thinking one above each sink and a light above each mirror.

master renovation vanity and shower wall

Where should we put the tv?  Yes, we’re adding a tv.  We added a tv to our master bathroom in a previous house and we loved it.

And where to put the outlets and switches?  Where will the cable box go?  Could we put the lights on a  motion sensor so they automatically go on when you enter the room.  That would be cool.  But which lights?  Just the recessed lights … or the vanity lights … or both?

master renovation

I stood farther back into the bedroom for this shot.  You can see the higher outlet hole where we’re going to put the outlet and cable for the tv that will hang in that wall.  The wood slats I stripped and took off the wall behind where the vanity will go got whitewashed and attached the tub side of the half wall.

And the decisions just keep on coming.  Should I sand the white wash to lighten it up a bit?  Is that color right? Can you really even tell without having all of the tile installed?  But the tile hasn’t arrived yet and the paint has.  So I’m not going to stress about it.  Paint is easy to change.  Maybe that little punch out should be white so it’s not so pronounced?  I still think that color will be awesome behind the vanity surrounded by white tile and mirrors and lights with a nickel finish.  I was inspired by this picture.

master bathroom inspiration


But it’s just so hard to know.  You know?  It’s so easy to second guess yourself and get hung up on the little details.  And the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty can be so debilitating.  And unmotivating.  And uninspiring.

I really just wanted to say … What. Ev. Er!  Let it go.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Treating someone with kindness and respect = important.

If the outlets beside our sinks end up a little higher than I really want = not important.

Pursuing your dreams and living a life you love = important.

If my first paint color choices don’t last a lifetime = not important.

I don’t mean to get all sappy or philosophical, it’s just that I am in love with all of this house stuff.  And I’m so happy to do it for a living and share it all with you. And every once in a while putting it all in perspective is just what I need.  Don’t spend too much time on things that mentally drain you (whether it’s a project decision or an exhausting friend), keep your eye on the prize (be it a finished, functional and beautiful space or a fitness goal) and above all else enjoy the ride.

Ok, now let me know what’s been on your mind.  Anything trying to weigh you down these days.  I say we band together and kill all the buzz kills.  What do you say?

another reclaimed wood sign idea {seas the day}

Before we turned our main living areas into a closet slash tool shed slash everything-that-needs-to-go-somewhere-landing-zone combo room that plays World Cup soccer games non-stop (or however you would grammatically correctly write that statement) I showed you this.

living room side wall May 2014

And you guys like the SEAS THE DAY sign.  Thanks!  Yes, I did make it.  And it’s super simple … and it was free since everything used was left over from something else (I love when that happens!).  But let’s back up for a second and I’ll show you why I really wanted to hang something over that door.

Remember when that door was a window and the walls were covered in paneling?  Oh, and the ceiling was lower before we raised the roof.

roof project progress

And then we removed the paneling and stripped the paint off of the wood slat walls.  And had all new windows and doors installed.  And were left with an exposed header above the door because the window was a little higher on the wall.  Which actually made installing the new door header easier, so we weren’t complaining.


And I shared with you all of the ways my dad helped with exterior trim and repair, but I didn’t mention that he also patched up this little spot for us.  But the one, and only down side I’ve noticed so far, to working with extinct wood like our Dade County Pine walls, is that it can’t be recreated.  You’re welcome for stating the obvious.

So we had to use some of the slats that used to be below the old window, and they are noticeably darker.


Let’s just pretend this is a great shot, apparently in the almost 5 months these slats were exposed to the free world I didn’t bother to take one photograph, sorry. But it does illustrate that the patched wood was obvious.  Nothing serious.  Especially here, just one of the many things we’ve added to the “Key West Quirky” list.  I think I’ve mentioned before that we like to frequent open houses around town and we have seen our fair share of Key West Quirky details in pretty much every home.  So this little imperfection isn’t anything of real consequence, just a good excuse for me to take a few minutes out of the major renovation schedule to make a another reclaimed wood sign.

As for the patching I just stripped the paint off of the slats and finished them with a few coats of polyurethane while my dad used a square to mark and then cut the wood slats with the circular saw, just set the blade at the depth of the wood slats so as not to cut through any of the supports.  We had a little termite damaged wood (very typical here in Key West) that we also got rid of.

patching wood slat walls

And use a chisel to clean out any part of the slat that you weren’t able to cut with the circular saw.

patching wood slat walls

Then just puzzle piece in the new wood, cutting it as tightly to size as possible.

Once the door trim was added it really wasn’t that bad.  But this girl will use any excuse to make a sign out of reclaimed wood so I ventured out to the pile of lumber we have left over from various projects and I found a 2 x 12 x 8 and cut it with my miter saw to about 6 feet long, about the same width as the door.  If I was going to buy wood for this project I would just by a 1 x 12 x 6.

reclaimed wood sign

A simple coat of paint, I used left over paint from the gray in the guest bedroom, no primer needed since I wanted a little wood knot bleed through and imperfect coverage.  And then a thorough sanding with 220 grit sand paper to make it even more imperfect and it was time for letters.

reclaimed wood sign

I used the exact same method for the lettering that I used for the reclaimed wood sign I made for the guest bedroom.  I first painted them all a solid turquoise color that I found on the mistint shelf at Home Depot a while back.  I actually bought it for a book project.  The quart was only $2.50 at the time, but technically free for this project I would say.  🙂

Now for the varying shades of aqua effect I had no idea what I was doing.

Seriously, if you learn anything from me it should be that you can wing it 93.7% of the time.

But, because I couldn’t think of one good reason why I couldn’t accomplish the paint look I wanted, I just put a little white paint and a little of the turquoise paint in a bowl and dabbed my craft paint brush in a little of each color, not really mixing the paint, then painted a little, then dabbed a little more, then painted a little more.

reclaimed wood sign

I used a small craft brush and just worked on each letter until I liked the look.  The red bowl has water in it, I found it helpful to keep the paint damp and workable.  Every letter is a little bit different and there is no real science to this at all.  Heck, there isn’t even any fake science.  🙂

I finished the look with a little dark wax just to help the aged look along a bit.

As for hanging it, I was hesitant to drill into the wood slat walls because they are bare wood, and would be impossible to patch, so I decided to drill into the ceiling, which is painted wood slats which makes for a much easier patching process if it ever comes the time.

I used a level to measure straight up from the center of the door to mark where to drill into the ceiling.

reclaimed wood sign

I drilled a 3/8″ hole with my impact driver, because that was the right size for the eye hook I was going to use.

And as for the eye hook, do you remember the day we found out our porch roof wasn’t attached to our house?  And I had to run out to buy something so we could tie up a support to hold it all together while we added joist hangers?

porch roof support

And the eye hook or bolt I bought (like this one) was strong enough to tie my elephant up to, said the nice man at the hardware store.  So I untied my elephant … I kid.  Since she helped us that day (The eye bolt, not my elephant.) she has just been waiting for a new job, so I screwed her into my new hole in the ceiling.

reclaimed wood sign

And used 3/4″ rope we had left over from our rope and wood accent wall in the guest bedroom, run through 1″ holes I drilled in either end of the sign and tied with slip knots thanks to Joel.  Don’t ask me how.  I don’t know.  🙂  But if you really want to know I can find out.  In exchange for cookies.

It took both of us to get it level and hung at the height I we wanted.  And the darker wood slats on the wall are hardly noticeable.

reclaimed wood sign

To cut the rope to length just wrap painter’s tape around where you want to cut and use a serrated knife, a piece of scrap wood prevented me from cutting into the actual sign.

reclaimed wood sign

With the painter’s tape still on the rope, douse the end of the rope in white glue and let it dry overnight before removing the painter’s tape.  This will prevent the rope from fraying, obviously skip this step if you want the rope to fray.  🙂

reclaimed wood sign

And that’s it.  I like the “seas the day” saying for obvious reasons.  Just something else a little coastal to add to the mix and help the vibe of the home continue in the “we’re a home near the beach” feel.

reclaimed wood sign

And if its coastal decor you like, hop over to to see a little collection I put together of some fun Coastal Decor Ideas.  Think crafts, fabric and color schemes!


DIY Wood Pallet Projects Book Pre-order

master bathroom vanity lights – what would you do?

Hey guys!  Hope you’re having a great week!

We have been plugging away with progress in our master bathroom and we are both kind unexpectedly giddy about how it’s coming together.  Momentum is a funny thing and sometimes at this stage of a project when everything is ugly it’s hard to stay positive and motivated.  But we just feel like progress is steady and the projects are fun for the most part.  Not to say that we’ve loved every moment of crawling around the attic running new electric or maneuvering around the crawl space strategizing a new plumbing plan.  But I can’t complain because I haven’t actually had to do those tasks.  This is what I do while I wait for instructions yelled to me like “drill the hole where you want the light” or “OK, turn on breaker 11 for 5 seconds and then turn it off”. 🙂

master bathroom renovation

Kidding!  That’s totally staged, except for the mug of coffee, that is real.  It just reminded me of the time we insulated the attic and I took a similar photo so I couldn’t resist.

While Joel handles all of those things, which is so awesome I can’t even express, his attitude that he can do it (and the fact that he actually can) has kept us on track … because no one wants to get me started on the plumber.  I’m serious, do not even mention it.  Them are fighting words these days.

And while Joel’s DIYing like a boss, I’m working on the carpentry … and listening for orders yelled from above or below.  “Can you see this wire I’m wiggling?” 🙂

The wall to the kitchen is framed out.  (Sorry for all of the wacky lighting and shadows, until we actually get some real lights in here I’m carting around a floor lamp and a couple of table lamps without shades … which is great for work light, not exactly for photography lighting.)

master bathroom renovation

The little bump out that we decided to add so our washer and dryer would fit in our hall bathroom is framed, drywalled and has a few coats of spackle already.  I left an opening for a door so we can have some added storage up there for randomly used things.

master bathroom renovation

A half wall and even a little bench that will be in our shower have also been framed out.  And I didn’t even bother to take up my painter’s tape floor plan before install. #WhyBother

master bathroom renovation

But, instead of just a “here’s where we’re at” update, I would love to pick your brain on something I’m undecided about.  

Because, seriously, you guys have proven over and over to be the kind of friends that I wish lived right here and would come and sit on our front porch at the end of the day with a glass of wine so I could run my ideas by you and hear your thoughts.  And smack myself on the forehead when you suggest something awesome I haven’t even thought of yet.

You had some great advice for removing the old cut nails, you gave professional advice about making lined curtains and in general you just have really good ideas.  So even though I should have thought of this many posts ago, like before the pallet walkway project, I’m reaching out to you for help.

Here’s the situation, my parents went away on a week’s vacation

master bathroom renovation

We enjoy an oversized shower and wanted one big enough that we wouldn’t need a door or curtain so we made sure to incorporate that into the space.  And although the bump out to fit the washer and dryer in the hall bathroom is a little inconvenient to the master bathroom layout, it gains us space enough in our kitchen for a bonafide pantry and real storage for all of the kitchen extras so after weighing the decision heavily it was totally the way to go for us.  And storage is a premium in these smaller, older homes in Key West so we really like that the storage we’re incorporating in this house can really set us apart from other houses on the market when it comes time to sell.  But let’s not think about selling and leaving Key West, not today.  🙂

BUT, what we did sacrifice is vanity space.  To us, no biggie, we rarely are getting ready at the same time and we really don’t even need double sinks, but we’re going with them because it’s a sought after amenity in master bathrooms.

The question is, what should we do about the master bathroom vanity lights?

Update:  I should have included the other lights we’re planning on in the bathroom.  We are putting a recessed light above the shower and one above the toilet area and I’m looking for a small chandelier to put above the tub.  Do people do recessed above the vanity AND a wall light?

One light fixture or two?

Option #1: Two fixtures.

I like that we can center them over each sink and in general just like the idea of two lights.  But would it feel too crowded?  How many bulbs should we get per fixture?  Here are some options with affiliate links.

Here’s a one bulb light option.  I think it would definitely fit but would it be enough light?

master vanity lighting

Here’s a two bulb option, and I’ve seen options I like that are up to 19″ wide.  The whole space is 64″ wide.  I think it’d be the perfect amount of light, but would it look cramped?

master vanity lighting

Option #2:  One larger fixture.

Would it look right with two sinks?  That’s my one big question.  I’m not normally one for symmetry but I’m just really drawn to the double sinks and two lights look.  Can we pull off the double sink but single light look?

Here’s a three bulb option.

master vanity lighting options

And a four bulb option.

master vanity lighting

So, yeah, I’m all over the board.  I’d love to hear what you’d do.  What set up do you have?  What set up do you wish you had?  Advantages, disadvantages to one or two vanity lights?  I don’t know what we’re going to do for mirrors yet but I do know that we don’t have the width in the space to do lights on the side of the mirror if the mirrors are going to be in front of the sinks.  So whatever it is, it needs to be installed above the mirror/mirrors.

What do you think we should do?  Helllllp!  Thanks.  🙂

narrowing down all of the choices in 3 simple steps

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t need all of the options that we have available to us.  That’s a general statement and not really specific to our master renovation.  We actually confirmed this while living on the island of Curacao.  Some move down to the islands and don’t find all of the usual products and brands we’re used to in the US and quickly declare that they can’t find “anything” and that the grocery store has “nothing”.  We’ll give them a gratuitous picture of some Curacao water.  🙂


But we move down and discover that we actually really like broccoli and chicken and don’t mind eating it on the regular.  Now don’t even get me started on my first trip to a US grocery store after over 3 years on a Caribbean island.  Two hours later my cart was full and I’d only been down 3 aisles and didn’t even have any essentials.  I had forgotten that we literally have a whole aisle of cracker options.  🙂

Anyway, when I started looking into picking the finishes and fixtures for the master bathroom remodel it immediately made me feel like I was back on that first visit back to the US grocery store.  #TooManyOptions

master bathroom inspiration

(photo source)

Like the grocery store, at first it was so fun.  And then it just didn’t end.  How could I decide before sticking my head in the sand and calling it a day?

Did someone say sand?  😉


What I’m about to tell you might sound like crazytalk to some, but this little strategy helped me move forward with decisions and will hopefully help anyone who also suffers from a little aversion to too many options.

1 – Decide on a floor plan.  Your final floor plan may shift a bit as you go, but really getting a solid understanding of spacing will make it clear up front what features you have room for and will actually work for your space.

master bathroom floor plan

2 – Head out to a few local stores and take a look at all of the showroom options, this will help you determine what things are important to you.  I guess you could do this online, too, but for me it’s easier to visualize with 20 different toilets lined up in a row right in front of me.  Checking out the aisles of tile made it easy to quickly pick out what I like and what I don’t like.

master bathroom finishes

What you’re looking at:

  • fixtures (faucets, shower heads, etc)
  • finishes (brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, brass, etc)
  • tile (large-scale, mosaic, natural stone, etc)
  • flooring (wood, carpet, if not tile, etc)
  • tubs (free-standing, built-in, etc)
  • toilets (how long, how tall, etc)
  • sinks (under-counter, vessel, etc)
  • vanities (color, size, closed cabinet vs open shelving, etc)

What you’re deciding is what “style” you like.  You’re not committing to any specific item, unless you find the perfect thing then of course grab it.  But you’re figuring out what you want the room to “feel” like.

bathroom inspiration

(photo source)

Buy a couple of samples of tiles you like and live with them for a few days.

Tip!!!  When tiling a floor we like to try to stick with a tile we can grout with a gray or darker color, because who really wants to deal with cleaning white grout on the floor?

3 – If you’ve found some things you like now is a good time to head back out into the world wide web and price check similar items.  Trust me, it will be a little easier now that you have a bit of direction.  I mean, just imagine the difference in the amount of search results you’ll get for “bathroom tile” versus “2 x 2 marble mosaic tile” or “toilets” versus “dual flush toilet”.

master bathroom inspiration

(photo source)

With this plan I quickly found a site that I have since spent a lot of time scouring.  The Builder Depot has the largest selection of Carrara marble in the world and they have been incredibly responsive regarding all of my questions about the need to seal marble and matching colors when using different styles of marble throughout one bathroom project.

I didn’t start this master bathroom project thinking that I was going to install marble, but the more bathroom inspiration pictures I pin (to my bathroom board), the more I realize that I really like light floors, but didn’t want to go pure white.  Marble is kind of the best of both worlds, it is very light in color, but has plenty of gray in it, and I can grout it with gray.  And it is the perfect complement to the airy, breezy, greenish/grayish/bluish colors I’m gravitating to for the walls.

I think it’s big to nail down the tile choices first since they cover so much of the space and can really dictate the direction to go with the other finishes.  It definitely feels like big progress.  🙂

My inspiration pictures also have me thinking:

  • stained wood vanity with open shelves
  • white vessel sinks
  • polished nickel finishes
  • gray/green/blue walls
  • whitewashed wood slat walls
  • free-standing soaker tub
  • a rolling style door would be super fun!

master bathroom inspiration

(photo source)

What about you, how do you narrow down all of the choices?  What do you think of deciding on the tile first in the bathroom remodel?  Would you do it different?

Only after hours of research did I reach out to The Builder Depot and inquire about a partnership.  I am thrilled that they have agreed to provide the tile for this master bathroom renovation.

diy pallet walkway, one huge project fail

Happy Friday everyone!  How about that soccer game yesterday?!?!  U-S-A!  It wasn’t a win but it was enough to advance.  Who wants to watch with me Tuesday at 4 (eastern time) when we play Belgium?  🙂

We are all consumed with the World Cup, we just can’t quit it.  Luckily master renovation prep work like ripping up floors and stripping paint off wood slat walls seems to go by a little quicker with a soccer game playing in the background.  I’m putting together a big update on where we are with everything, hopefully for Monday.  Unfortunately we’re at the all out ugly stage, not one single thing is appealing to look at just yet.  But progress is progress, and I distract myself with images of pretty faucets and tile.  🙂

But today let’s talk about one huge project fail (with affiliate links) that happened when I was working on projects for the book.

 pallet walkway

That is not exactly a functional pallet walkway.  Womp womp.

Making projects for a DIY tutorial book is like compacting a year’s worth of projects into a 2 month period. And I sourced, brought home and disassembled each pallet slat that was used for all of the projects in the book.  It took some serious time.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to wait for the “perfect” pallets and we just didn’t have the supply of pallets on this little island for me to pick and choose exactly what kind of pallet wood I really wanted for each and every project.

But I really wanted a pallet walkway.  Not only for the book, but it would be the perfect addition to our small back yard.

yardscape ideas for your small garden

That lattice gate actually blocks a lot of random items (corn hole boards (similar to these, but I DIYed ours for Joel’s 40th brithday), dog pooper scooper (we have this one and love not having to bend over for that crappy job – ba dum bum) and extra landscape bricks) that we need access to even though we stash them behind the shed.  So we’re often trekking across the mulch, not really a big deal but a defined path would be nice.

And I thought I had found the solution.

pallet walkway

Not bad.  I was really happy with how it turned out.  But I was also really happy that it went bad so quickly that I knew not include it in the book.  Only a few days later that walkway was looking more like this.

pallet walkway

I don’t know if it was just the perfect storm of pallet walkway killing events.  We had a rain storm pretty much immediately after I finished it.  Then the sun shone so hot and bright I could almost see the pallet slats warping before my eyes.  They even cracked when we stepped on them.

Total DIY fail.

If I were to try this project again I would:

  • Use what I call pallet support boards, they are not pallets slats, they are the boards that hold the pallet slats together. And they are thicker, similar in size to a 2 x 4.  Maybe with that thickness the boards wouldn’t warp?
  • Stain or seal the wood to prevent water absorption.  Always a good idea for any wood project outside, but not always necessary.  Probably with the added moisture soaked up right from the ground this would help.

I wanted the walkway to be flush with the ground so I actually laid the pallet slats and then dumped a new load of mulch right on them and leveled it all out with a metal rake.

pallet walkway

Using the back of the rake to remove the mulch from the pallet slats and keep the mulch on the ground flush with the slats.

pallet walkway

I think that strategy worked pretty good, and would do it that way again.  But, in an ironic twist of fate, we have since decided (almost 100%, which means our minds will change 16 more times before we know for sure) to install a pool.  It’s hard to believe I’m even saying that.  We’re not pool people.  But if we’ve learned one thing during our weekend adventures checking out open houses here in Key West it is the great impact of resale value a pool has in these parts.  It is definitely an “after everything else is done” project, but also basically eliminates any need for that little walkway.  And a quick dip in a pool has proven therapeutic after a long day’s work thanks to our lovely neighbor Katharine!!

Just a reminder, the book is available for pre-order and is set for publication on September 18th.  If you like making projects with the rustic pallet wood you will love the variety of projects included in the book.  There are 35 tutorials plus bonus information about making new wood look old and how to incorporate some of my favorite accessories to help your projects really come to life.  And you know I didn’t include any project that I don’t absolutely love … I only share the bad and ugly here on the blog apparently.  🙂

DIY Wood Pallet Projects Book Pre-order

Do you have any project fail stories to share?  Or have you made your own pallet walkway with better success?

Happy weekend everyone!  Get out there and enjoy some summer!

DIY pallet walkway, a project fail with tips to make your project a success from thespacebetweenblog.netDIY pallet walkway, a project fail with tips to make your project a success from

how to cap a water pipe, plumbing 101

Please tell me you all have World Cup soccer fever, too.


We’re kind of into it.  Big game coming up tomorrow.  Go team USA!!

Now, if we had a nickel for every time we did something wrong in the DIY arena we’d be rich.  Very, very rich.  And we’d live here.  Because it’s for sale.  And it has a moat.


You know those people who start out every project by doing a lot of research and checking and double checking their strategy and then proceeding with caution?

Yeah, I know those people, too.  We are not them.  We’re much more the “how hard can it be” DIY type.  We’re the “we can figure it out as well go” people.  Not in a cocky way, just in a “we’re capable adults, with an average set of skills and a decent amount of common sense” way.  You’ll never know if you don’t try, right?!?

And … to fast forward many, many years … that strategy has served us well.  We’ve tackled projects way beyond the scope of our skill set and have somehow made it all work.  The projects Joel and I have tackled together through the years are all fun to look back on and reminisce about.  Here we are circa 2001 in the family room of our first house in Indianapolis, IN.  #lovedthoseoverallshorts


Even the ones that didn’t work out well.  Like the time we learned about primer.  Ay yay yay!

The other infamous “well that didn’t go as planned” project that makes us laugh now even though it may have made me cry back then is the first time we tried to cap some plumbing pipes.  We had no idea how to cap a water pipe.  But, in theory, we could easily walk through the steps.

1.  Cut pipe.
2.  Glue pipe.
3.  Cap pipe.

Sim. Ple.

STOP RIGHT HERE!  I am going to save you from learning this lesson the hard way like we did.  NOT ALL PIPES ARE CREATED EQUAL.

So, demolition is happening around here.

master demolition

And since we’re relocating a bathroom we need to relocate the plumbing.  I’m pretty sure we’re having a professional do all of the new plumbing work, but we’re having a heck of a time getting a reputable one to give us the time of day.  But, in preparation for demolition day we needed to shut the main water off to the house in order to remove the old toilet, sink and shower … which meant that we needed to cap those pipes once the day was done to be able to turn our water back on and do normal people things like … bathe.

I know I just proclaimed to stop!  But this is where I tell you that this really is such a simple DIY it is pretty embarrassing how poorly we’ve executed (or failed to execute) this little project in the past.  Here is the scene of the crime in a rental house we renovated in 2005 in a small town in Maryland.


Yes, we took out the old pipes to install PVC because we thought it would be easier than dealing with a torch and flux and all that mess.  #anothernickelforus

Here’s what you need to be sure of …

Do you have PVC pipes or CPVC pipes?

That one little letter can cause Borderline Insanity Disorder.  We were never officially diagnosed with this fake ailment, but I can assure you that we were on the brink of crazy when we tried to fix a CPVC pipe with PVC glue about 9 years ago.  Glue, cap, wait, turn water on, cap bursts off pipe, tears, repeat … over, and over and over.  It was very sad.

But here is the other big tip that can save you the headache …

Bring a piece of your pipe with you to the hardware store because they don’t know what kind of pipe you have without it.

They will be very helpful, and hand you parts like they have seen your plumbing and you will leave with a false sense of confidence.  It’s not their fault.

Here’s what you’ll need, some affiliate links:

  • hack saw
  • caps the same size as your pipe, either PVC or CPVC
  • primer – the same kind works for PVC and CPVC
  • cement” – the glue that will dry like cement if you buy the right kind, make sure you get the kind that will work with the pipes that you have

how to cap a water pipe supplies

Another fun fact:  CPVC measurements refer to the diameter of exterior of the pipe, PVC measurements refer to the diameter of the interior of the pipe.  So 1/2″ PVC looks much larger than the measurement indicates. #notconfusingatall

So, from here on out, it really is a simple process.  We wanted to remove the pipes from the floor entirely so they didn’t interfere with any additional demolition progress so step one was to go into the crawl space send Joel into the crawl space with the supplies.

how to cap a water pipe in the crawl space

But he can’t complain, I rolled out the red carpet for him.  😉

He proceeded to cap off the water pipes for the old bathroom sink, shower and toilet and we just put rags in the drain pipes for now.  And it turns out that one rogue pipe was PVC so I had to trek back to the store to buy the other cement which is in a gold container like this.

how to cap a water pipe in the crawl space

And then might I suggest one showers.  Because, well …

how to cap a water pipe in the crawl space

And we don’t have lights in our crawl space so that fancy headlamp makes it easy to maneuver and work without having something extra to hold on to.  It’s not just a fashion statement.  🙂

how to cap a water pipe

This is part of our complete master renovation, you can get caught up on how we got started, what our floor plan thoughts are and how demolition day went down.  And don’t forget to enter to win a complete Deck Care Kit from Thompson’s WaterSeal!

I’d love to hear what DIY lessons you’ve learned the hard way?  Ever make a mistake over and over because you didn’t take the time to figure out what you were doing wrong?

And now if you wouldn’t mind indulging me for a second, while looking back through old pictures to try to find the shots of that old bathroom I found this.


Melt my heart, that’s Marley’s first night at home with us when she was just 8 weeks old in Indianapolis. Notice the painter’s tape all around.  🙂

And then there’s Mico’s first night at home with us about a year later.


Ugh.  They are so cute.  Mico immediately made herself right at home.


Ok.  That’s it.  No more.  Ok.  Just one more.  🙂


Don’t be jealous of the 1970s sofa or the lion blanket.  That blanket alone saved us loads on our heat bill during those Indy winters.  🙂

master renovation – demolition and disappointing discoveries {and a couple fun ones, too}

Happy day to you!  I hope you are having a banner week, it has been one around here so far for sure.  First, the BHG Outdoor Decor win (Thanks in large part to YOU!), then the USA men’s soccer team beat Ghana (the team that has knocked us out of the last two World Cups) in the World Cup and we have officially started a new major renovation project.  Which gets us excited in so many different ways.  🙂

So here’s how I really want you to think we live.

making curtains

And here is how we actually live.


What I want you to think.

living room side wall May 2014

And what really is.


And then there’s this.


And that’s all because we have completely emptied out the master bedroom, bathroom and closet in preparation for a complete master renovation.

So let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with, starting with the master bedroom.

Here’s the view to the left as you stand in the entry way to the room (which is in the back of the kitchen right by the current location of the washer and dryer).  I think the direction I want to go with the room has me leaning toward painting the inside of the door white.  The style of this door is very similar to our front door.

master bedroom before

The view from standing in front of the door that leads to the back yard.  The old window with the AC unit in it is going to go away because the new wall for the master closet will come out of the back wall pretty much in the middle of where that window is now, where the blue tape is run along the floor.

master bedroom before

View from the back corner windows.  Not only do we have multiple shades of paneling, we have multiple patterns. 🙂

master bedroom before

View from the old master bathroom door.

master bedroom before

And to make everyone in the history of ever feel good about your own bathroom, here is the awkward little nook that was turned into a master bathroom by a previous owner.

The view from the door into the room, the shower is off to the left at the end.

original master bathroom

And from standing in the shower looking back toward the door.  You’re welcome.  😉

original master bathroom

I shared a bunch of pictures of the space that will become the master bathroom when we discussed getting started and the floor plan.  Everything that is now in our dining room came straight out of that room so here is the weird space emptied out.  Remember that time our refrigerator water line leaked?

old master closet

And here’s the back side of the shower with the master bedroom in the distance.

old master closet

And once things were cleared out we didn’t waste any time getting to some demolition.  And for the first time we invited a couple of friends over and I am so thankful for the extra sets of hands.  It was amazing to see the demolition unfold so quickly.

Joel and I got started about 7:30 am and got organized with a few essentials before diving into demolition:

  • be aware of where all electrical lines are running and which breakers in your circuit breaker box shut them off
  • make a note of where all plumbing lines are running and find the appropriate shut offs – the individual shut offs under the sink weren’t working and there weren’t any under the shower so we actually had to shut the water off to the whole house for a bit
  • take out anything that you’ll want to save, especially if you have help coming, who might be ready to just tear everything apart – I wanted to salvage the bathroom door and the rods in the closet area, no idea what I’ll do with them … but that’s never stopped me from holding onto something before  🙂
  • compile the appropriate tools for easy access throughout the day – some essentials include safety goggles, leather gloves, electrical testers, hammers, pry bars, sledgehammers, regular and Phillips screwdrivers (for removing outlet and switch covers), pliers (to turn valves and loosen nuts for toilet removal) and the reciprocating saw

Things were looking like this about an hour later when our first victim friend arrived.  Paneling comes down pretty easy with a hammer and pry bar, start with all of the trim around the windows, baseboards and along the ceiling and then the small nails holding the sheets up are no match for anyone eager for some demo.

master bedroom demolition

About an hour later, and with our crew of four in full motion we had the reciprocating saw out and were taking down the wall enclosing the bathroom.  Since it was a weird little add-on we knew it wasn’t load bearing, definitely check with a professional before removing any walls in your house.  🙂

master bedroom demolition

Joel worked pretty steady all day dragging everything out to the dumpster.  Our friends, Adam and Wayne, manned the sawzall and handled the wall removal, manhandled the shower out of its little nook and rid us of all of the weird closet add ons while I tackled everything from paneling removal to toilet, sink and vanity removal and all of the little things that needed an extra set of hands.

There’s the shower.

master demolition

And there goes the shower!

master demolition

All-in-all it took the 4 of us about 4 hours to get to this point.

master demolition

And if we’ve learned one thing in our years of DIY it is that a clean work area “feels” so much better that the mess above.  

Maybe it’s mind over matter, or true what they say about clean space helping to clear the mind.  Either way, it is just so much better to wake up the next day to this.

master demolition

We were thrilled to find the wood floors in the bedroom in beautiful condition.  We’ll definitely be able to refinish those down the road, but I was disappointed to find that when the drop ceiling was installed they added 1 x 6 wood strapping, even though the ceiling was already wood.  This isn’t terrible, just extra work, above my head.  My shoulders were not thrilled by the discovery.

master demolition

But on the fun discovery side were these records that had been hidden in the walls.

master demolition

It was also fun to find this newspaper from 1963 under the shower and read the headlines like “AFL votes to add two teams in ’66”.  And the date on the paper is Joel’s birthday.  The DIY birthday gifts just keep on coming.  🙂

master demolition

Each day this week I’m just make a little bit more progress.   There are a lot of little nails to be pulled, all the drop ceilings need to come down, all of the staples removed and there are so many different wood surfaces (some in better condition than others) that we still need to make final decisions on what will stay and what will go now.  As sung by The Clash.

But I was thrilled to find Dade County Pine walls in what will be the bathroom so we’re going to try to work as much of that into the final design as possible. Something about extinct wood just makes me want to protect every last bit of it that I reasonably can.

master demolition

You can find out more about Dade County Pine and get a reminder about what things looked like before demolition and where we think we’re headed with the layout.  (Although, once a space really reveals itself its funny how minds seem to change around here.)  I’ve also shared all kinds of details about my love of the pry bar and how invaluable it is during demolition.

So that’s what’s happening around here.  What’s happening around your space?  Any renovation projects getting started?  Or is it beach time?

the lies people tell you about making curtains

Note:  First of all, seriously, we WON!  The whole BHG Outdoor Decor thing.  You and I.  We won.  I am verklempt, for everyone who voted, I love you for ever and ever, amen.  🙂

Now, I have to admit it, sometimes it is the most selfish of reasons that inspires a project around here.  But whatever it is that lights the fire you just have to run with it.  I guess.  🙂

We’ve moved into the guest bedroom in preparation for the full renovation of the master bedroom, bathroom and closet in one fell swoop.  If the term “one fell swoop” means to tear out everything existing in each of those three spaces to then, over the course of time, one little project at a time, build it back up that is. So this is happening.

master demolition

Much more to come on that hot mess very soon.  But it only took me about .3 seconds to find myself completely dissatisfied with the curtain situation in the guest bedroom … which looked a bit like this for about six months.


And this.


Sad, I know.  My standing joke when we show everyone the house is to proclaim them “custom curtains”.  I would venture to guess they are one of a kind, but if you have something similar send me a picture.  It will make me feel better.

And one of the main differences in our guest bedroom and our master bedroom (other than the fact that one room has been renovated and one room needs to be renovated) is light.

As one of the people who takes up residence in this abode, normally in the master bedroom, I can admire all of the light in the guest bedroom from afar.  I often think I forgot to shut the light off in there since the natural stream of light is so bright and beautiful.

What is not beautiful, however, is the neighbor’s light that he often leaves on all night.  And the crack of dawn light that creeps in every single morning.

making curtains for the guest bedroom

I kind of knew the light issue was there, but as the self-serving host I am, I never really cared too much, knowing that curtains would happen … eventually.

And then we started sleeping in there.  And curtains become el project numero uno on the ol’ to-do list. Because no real progress is going to happen on the master if this girl can’t get a good night’s sleep.

So, I set about making curtains, and I was determined to have them end up beautiful, and not be long, drawn out process.  Seriously, you can so do this.

I know there are a ton of different tutorials out there with proclamations of the what you’ll need to make professional looking lined curtains.  And I can attest that you really don’t need any of the skills or knowledge even I thought were necessary.

Lie #1 – The ability to sew a straight line on command.  My curtains are proof that is not 100% required.

making curtains for the guest bedroom

Lie #2 – You have to know exactly how tall you want your curtain panels to end up before you start.  Nope. Not true.

Lie #3 – You have to know exactly what size needle to use and what tension and stitch size to set your sewing machine on.  I have no doubt this would be helpful, but I have no idea, so I snapped this pic for anyone interested.  Maybe these settings mean something to you?

making curtains - sewing machine settings

Lie #4 – You can’t just wing it as you go.  Whatev!  I did, so you totally can, too.

So let’s get started winging it.  🙂

Step One – Clean your floor.  Maybe you’re someone that does this on a regular basis without a prompt.  Or maybe you’re me.  🙂  You’re going to need a lot of room to lay out your fabric so pick an area with a large, flat surface that you can maneuver around to reach your fabric from all angles.  Dog supervision is entirely optional.


Step Two – Measure about how tall you want your finished curtains to be.  Remember, if you want to fake larger windows plan to make your curtains so you can hang your curtain rod high on the wall and not right at your window trim.

Tip!!!  Use the entire height of your wall as a guide.  If you use this measurement you will always have enough fabric, and have leeway for a curtain that puddles more at the floor if you want.

See, no need to know the exact measurement at this point.

I measured from the bottom of our crown molding to the floor and used that 104″ measurement as a guide.  If you don’t have crown molding just measure from the ceiling to the floor.

Step Three – Depending on how much of a hem line you want, add some inches to the final curtain height.  I knew I didn’t need a hem at the top so I just picked a number out of thin air and decided I wanted at least a 5″ hem at the bottom, nice and chunky.  So add a bit more than that to the total height of the finished curtain, I added 8″.  This will give you some wiggle room, unless you are perfect, then go with a more exact measurement.  🙂  Lay out your fabric and cut to size.  I just doubled over the fabric right off the bolt and made my cuts.  This beautiful fabric is the Braemore Gazebo Cloud from Online Fabric Store.

making curtains for the guest bedroom

Good quality fabric sheers are key, I have these.  And that first cut was the hardest for me.  What if it’s not right?  Too short?  I render this beautiful fabric useless?

making curtains for the guest bedroom - cutting

That’s how I decided to go with the measuring tip above.  It took all of the questions out of it, no matter what, my fabric would be more than big enough for my room.

And I found comfort in making both panels at the same time, you know, just for the visual reassurance that they were basically the same size.

making curtain panels

Tip!!!  If you’re working with a patterned fabric make sure you have the pattern running in the same direction on both panels here before you start pinning anything!

Step Four – If you’re making lined curtains lay out your lining fabric, the side that will face toward your window facing down, right on top of my designer fabric and cut to size.  I used this blackout lining fabric from Online Fabric Store.

making blackout lined curtains

Truth be told, no measuring devices were used during this step.  Basically your lining fabric doesn’t need to be quite as long as your designer fabric, so I just cut it an inch or so shorter than the curtain fabric.  Easy peasy.

For fabric buying purposes I will tell you that 6 yards of both the curtain fabric and the liner would be perfect for this size panel.

Step Five – Pin around the top and both sides of the fabric.  I lined the top of the lining fabric and curtain fabric together and pinned 1″ in from the edge and to make sure that the color index along each side of the fabric didn’t end up showing I pinned 1 1/2″ in from the edge of the designer fabric.

making curtains - pinning

Step Six – Sew!  I first sewed along the top and then along each side.

Here are a few sewing tips for near novice DIYers like myself:

    • slow and steady works better than fast and out of control, trust me
    • always start and end a line of sewing with a little forward, backward, forward action to prevent the thread from easily unraveling
    • find a spot on your sewing machine to line up the fabric, or mark one right on there to help keep your lines straight, I used the edge of the metal plate on my machine as a guide

making curtains - sewing machine settings

    • whenever you need to stop in the middle of sewing a line make sure the needing is depressed into the fabric, this will prevent it from slipping out from under the foot
    • have something close to toss the pins in as you take them out of the fabric, my great grandmother’s antique tea cup worked perfect

making curtains

  • definitely take the pins out before they go under the sewing machine needle, I have learned this the hard time … multiple times before it actually stuck #becauseIamverybright
  • every once in a while make sure you’re actually sewing, sometimes the bobbin thread or even the thread in the needle just doesn’t cooperate and the needle holes make you feel like you’re sewing but you’re not #totalsewingbummer

making curtains

Step Seven – Turn your fabric right side out.

Tip!!!  Cut the inside corners of fabric off before turning them inside out to make it easier to create a nice, sharp corner point.  A pencil or other pointy object helps maneuver the fabric into place as well.

making curtains

Step Eight – Iron.  No exclamation point here, because I don’t find ironing one bit exclamation point worthy.

Tip!!!  Iron from the lining side of the panel, this makes it easier to have the fabric side overlap the lining just a bit on each edge.

making curtains

Step Nine – Hang!  Yep, we only have 3 sides sewn, but this is my way of avoiding having to take exact measurements.  With my rod hung and using clips for easy hanging, and a more casual feel (you could add back tabs or leave an opening to run the rod through your panels if you prefer that look) it’s easy to hang the curtains and see exactly where I want to hem the panels at the bottom.  Just pin along the bottom of the curtain at the final length.

You don’t need to hang both panels here, but I’ll admit, I was tempted to call this project done-for-now since the bottom is hidden by the bed.  And I couldn’t help but stop to admire the sheer beauty of the fabric.  Again, it is the Braemore Gazebo Cloud from Online Fabric Store.

making curtains

Step Ten – Hem the bottom to the final panel length.  I just unclipped each panel and measured from the top of the panel to where I had pinned the bottom.  Measure that same distance along the width of both panels and pin along the bottom.

making curtains

To create the bottom hem just measure your desired hem size, remember mine was 5″ (about) and iron the fabric over again with that much of a “cuff” of fabric showing.

making curtains

Then, just to hide any evidence of an unfinished edge, I folded the fabric over an additional inch or so and ironed again.

making curtains

I first sewed that smaller hem to hide the unfinished edge, making sure it didn’t peek out either end.  You can definitely call the curtains done here if you want more of the curtain fabric puddling on the floor.

making curtains

And then just one more line of sewing to bring the final panel size to your desired length.

making curtains

And for someone who went into this thinking “I’m not really sure what I’m doing” I could not be more thrilled with the result.

making curtains

When Joel got home I proclaimed “you have to check out the curtains, and you have to touch them, they feel like real real curtains”.  And they do.  They are weighty and bring such a focal point to the room.

I am definitely in love.

making curtains

Here’s a shot of what they look like on the floor behind the bed.  aka, proof I did actually finish sewing the bottom. 🙂

making curtains - simple sewing tips included from

Needless to say the whole sleeping experience in the guest bedroom has just gotten a bit more luxurious!!

making curtains with blackout lining - great sewing tips included as well from

What about you … make any curtains this weekend?  Do any demolition?  Have you ever spent a night in your own guest bedroom?  It’s … weird.  🙂

Update: A real life professional has added some invaluable tips in the comments.  Definitely take a minute to check them out if you’re getting ready to make your own lined curtains.

Need a vacation?  Don’t forget to enter the chance to win a 4 night stay in Anna Maria Island here.

And a larger than large thank you to Online Fabric Store for supplying me with this beautiful fabric and blackout lining, and even more for your incredible patience.  I have had this fabric since October and then instead of proceeding with the curtain making process I decided to write a book.  Your grace in this situation warmed my heart.

Anna Maria Island vacation

We may have turned the dining room into a closet and the guest bedroom into our bedroom this weekend.  Which proved very confusing for one cute black dog.  Much more to come on all of that this week.  Details include newspapers from 1963 and an Engelbert Humperdinck record from 1976.  I’m just sayin’.

And now for the real fun, I took a little girls’ trip recently to a place I had never heard of before, Anna Maria Island, which is just off the coast of Tampa, FL in the Gulf of Mexico and it was awesome.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

Not only is it a quaint little waterfront community with charm and personality galore, I mean check out this awesome mailbox.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

But we were lucky enough to stay in the beautiful Sirenia Cove vacation rental … and the owner is offering a 4 NIGHT VACATION RENTAL GIVEAWAY FOR ONE OF YOU!!

If you love coastal decor, and you must if you’re hanging around here, then you are going to feel right at home in this 4 bedroom, 3 bath waterfront home. Maybe you’ll end up staying in this gorgeous turquoise room.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

I can attest first hand that this colorful room with that DIY painted and framed coral is a vacation nights’ sleep dream room.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

That’s right, I said DIY.  The homeowner is one of us!  So many fun DIY coastal decor ideas have been implemented throughout.  Like these sand dollars and star fish.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

Grab some spray paint and shadow box frames from IKEA and you could create your own colorful coastal decor.

And to do a little bragging on Nancy (the homeowner), she is also an accomplished artist.  I am in love with this boat painting that she created herself.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

So it wasn’t any surprise when I found out that Nancy’s daughter actually painted the house name sign that greets you right when you enter the home.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

Here is a shot of Sydney, the DIYer herself, in action.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

One of my absolute favorite features that I would implement into our own house today if we had stairs are the perfectly nautical oar shaped railings.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

And if you’re not sitting up in that second floor reading nook you may find yourselves gathered on this screened in back porch overlooking the pool and canal … we may have ended each evening there just gathered around reminiscing about the day and plotting a strategy to return.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway

And the littles accompanying your vacation are going to love this 3rd floor loft that is built to look like they’re captaining a ship, complete with water views out the window.

4 night/ 5 day stay at Sirenia Cove Giveaway

And every time I thought “I need to get some pictures of this great pool area” I was actually in the pool, but I did skip down and snap this picture right before departure.  Such a cozy place to hang out during those lazy vacation afternoon.

4 night/ 5 day stay at Sirenia Cove Giveaway

And there are also a handful of beautiful beaches that are only a short bike ride or golf cart ride away if you want to get out and about.

anna maria island vacation rental giveaway


And Nancy has arranged to have bike AND a golf cart rental included with this awesome vacation getaway giveaway.


Prize Package includes:

  • 4 Night stay at Sirenia Cove on Anna Maria Island
  • 1 ~ $60.00 Gift Certificate to Eat Here Restaurant Group
  • 1 ~ Free Golf Cart Rental for 4 Days from Fun and More Rentals
  • Free Beach Bike Rental for 4 Days from Fun and More Rentals
  • 2 ~ Paddleboard or Kayak Rentals for 4 Days from Fun and More Rentals
  • Free use of Beach Chairs for 4 Days from Sirenia Cove
  • 1 – Portrait by the Sea value of $100.00 from Photography by Billi
  • Photos to be purchased based on selection from proofs
  • 2 Free Shadepops

A great big thank you to not only Nancy for the use of her beautiful home, and coordinating this giveaway but we can’t leave without a shout out to Fun And More Rentals for the use of the bikes, golf cart and hosting a guided kayak tour that was awesome!


And to Ford who provided two cars for us to get from the Tampa Airport to Anna Maria Island and back, it’s an easy hour ride each way and these comfortable riding Ford Fusions made it that much better!


Plenty of trunk space for the car load of travel essentials we were all toting around.


And if I could offer up just one last little tip, if you’re ever in the Anna Maria Island area you have to eat at Eat Here, even if you aren’t the winner of this prize.  Great food, friendly service and a super eclectic environment that is perfect for a night out on vacation.  I had the pizza special of the day.  Delish!


All in all it was the perfect getaway with a few girlfriends and I’m super excited to see which one of you will win one!!  And check out the posts from my the others since we all are sharing our own individual photos from the trip!

Roeshel from DIY Showoff
Kelly from Eclectically Vintage
Diane from In My Own Style
Beth from Unskinny Boppy
Carrie from Making Lemonade
Denise from The Painted Home

Good luck!!

DIY Wood Pallet Projects Book Pre-order

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter {foto friday 24}

Happy Friday the 13th!!  Have you entered the giveaway yet?  There are FIVE $100 gift cards up for grabs.  And there’s still time to vote for our porch in Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Summer Bash challenge right here.  It’s still crazy to see our little porch on

Last weekend Joel and I skipped off to New Orleans for our first visit to the eclectic city and what better day to show you a few of the fun sights of the notoriously haunted city than today.  While we lived in Curacao I did a pretty regular series where I would chronicle our travels and just some fun finds on the island.  Like a typical day, or the dogs in our neighborhood or some of my favorite Curacao beaches and sunsets.  🙂

So here is the New Orleans edition, from chippy brick walls to massive mansions.

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

NOLA, as I just learned it’s called, was one of those places that I had no idea what to expect and was really excited to see it first hand.

I had visions of “grandiose New Orleans architecture” and at the same time, I had no idea what that meant.

Based on a suggestion we bought an all day streetcar pass and took the St. Charles Street route to the end of the line and then got off part way back to walk and take pictures of some pretty impressive estates.

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

I love the variety of architectural details.

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

But for as awesome as these homes were, and they were pretty incredible in scale, I still felt that they weren’t exactly what I was expecting.  You know those times when you don’t have a specific expectation, but you do know what your expectation isn’t?

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

Not to take anything away from these homes.  The sheer scale is enough to be drool worthy.

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

I could stare at the extra-large columns and immaculate landscaping all day.  And I now think I need some ivy growing up our stair risers … somewhere.

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

New Orleans, St. Charles St and The French Quarter

Even the more “humble abodes” have enough detail to entice us to stop and swoon.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

We even saw a few works in progress.  Like this colorful gem.  You can partially see the crane on the left doing some second floor exterior rehab.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And this is a pseudo before and after for a pair of identical homes, the one on the left is in the process of becoming the equal of her twin on the right.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And at the end of our walk we were both still thinking we hadn’t quite seen the New Orleans architecture we had envisioned in our little brains.

So we rested up for the afternoon and ventured out onto Bourbon St at night and saw some things I will never be able to unsee.  Which is unfortunate.  😉

But the next day more than makes up for it as we meandered deep into the heart of the old French Quarter and soaked in all of the rustic, shabby beauty that we love so much.

Keep walking past the eclectic groups of street performers.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And the popular Jackson Square.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And the beaded light post.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And this guy and his perfectly turquoise doors.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And just soak it all in.  Because I’m disappointed to say that I didn’t take too many more pictures.  I think we were just having too much fun pointing out fun features to each other, and guessing which house is Brangelina’s.

I am in love with this brick and aqua combo.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And if I did have painted brick I would definitely be tempted to just let it chip away.

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And we may have struck up conversation with the guys restoring this beautiful building about local historic requirements and regulations.  Because we know how to have a good time.  🙂

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

And I’m happy to say that we spent our last evening in New Orleans on Frenchmen Street and if you like jazz, blues or any kind of music with colorful horn players and dark, seedy back alley type bars, this is the street to be on.

And then we finally felt like we had seen the New Orleans we knew we would love … but we couldn’t resist one last walk back to our hotel via Bourbon Street just to solidify the fact that we are not wild bachelor/bachelorette party types.  Like there was ever a doubt.  🙂

New Orleans, St. Charles Street and The French Quarter

How you would describe yourself?  The big mansion or chippy brick “row house” type?  Blow out bachelorette party on Bourbon St … or a couple of your best girlfriends at your local dive bar where pitchers of beer are $3?  Not that that’s what I did, but if I did it would be with these beauties.


And the night would end with homemade stove top popcorn.  Of course.  🙂

Have a great weekend y’all.  Hopefully you’ve got World Cup fever.  We’re big soccer fans around here.  And in honor, take a look back at our visit to Argentina, home of Joel’s favorite player Lionel Messi.