July 28, 2016

Emma's Bathroom Renovation


While I would have been thrilled to renovate a bathroom that I actually use, before renovating one that I've never used, it seems our house had other plans for us. If you don't own an old house, you may be unaware that old houses are bossy and we were helpless to argue with a water leak that had her sharing our bathroom.

This was a total gut job. We took it to the studs and the floor joists. It was a complete loss. Here's a little before and after for you!

Before:

After:



What you can't see in the before picture above is the wood box built around a pipe sticking out into the room near the ceiling. It never ceases to amaze us the jack-assery, as we like to call it, we find around here. I was so proud of the great framing job my guy did so that we could drywall it.

Before:


After:


During:


After:


The beauty of a complete gut job is that you have a blank slate and from the ashes of that hot mess, a beautiful, fresh new bathroom was born.


We made a few changes shortly after moving in, taking down that wall cabinet, switching out the hardware, light fixture, vanity, faucet and mirror. By the way, that mirror has been in my family for as long as I can remember and hung in my great grandmother's bedroom when I was little and then hung in my bedroom when I was a teenager. Em was adamant that it not be replaced so it just got a fresh coat of paint.


This bathroom is a tiny 6x7 feet which somehow feels much larger now than it did before. It's actually a tough space to photograph and there are no windows so the only natural light comes from a window in the bedroom.


With such a neutral backdrop, I had fun introducing some color and personality into the space and I'm so happy with how it turned out. I'm looking forward to school starting back so I can sneak in here and pretend it's mine. I'm not kidding you when I say that it's the best bathroom in the house. Emma couldn't be happier with her new space. She even got new, towels, toiletries and organizing bins. I have lost track of the number of times she has told us that she loves it and has thanked us for doing this for her. While we didn't use top of the line finishes like we plan to do in our own bathroom renovation, we tried to use good materials that feel appropriate to the age of the house (c. 1900) and that we hoped would be timeless.


This project, like every other project in this house, took way longer and cost more than we thought it would. When will we learn? So far we have done every project in this house ourselves. I think chances are good that we aren't tackling the two remaining bathrooms or the kitchen. It's not as easy as they make it look on HGTV folks. Also, for the record, let me make it clear that almost every time I say we in this post I really mean he. Aside from the drywall, my sweet man did everything. He demo'd, framed, replaced the subfloor, did the plumbing and electrical, installed the shower, toilet and vanity, did all the trim work and probably a dozen other things I can't think of. I was only responsible for design choices, clean up and painting. Well, I was also responsible for tiling but after a major tile fail, we hired that out too. I really, really wanted to be able to do it. I watched a ton of videos, read how to articles, did two dry runs but it turns out that I'm a much better baker than tiler. That's okay. I can't be good at everything and I'm starting to learn to acknowledge my limits.


I'm so proud of my guy and all of his hard work. I love that we have spent the last 5 years working together to make this house our perfect home, and with each new completed project, I fall a little more in love.
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July 22, 2016

Early Morning Ramblings


I woke up early this morning, a promise to spend time with my guy before he drove to Chicago for the day. The text on my phone, sent from downstairs, said: Chai, darling? Of course, yes. Usually he leaves for work at 4:30am so a cup together at 6am? A rare treat. Now he is on his way north and here I sit in this dimly lit house with only my thoughts and this cat in my lap for company.  I wonder as I pet him, which of us derives more comfort from it. Slowness. There is something almost spiritual about slow, quiet mornings. And this morning a need to capture the feeling with only my phone so as not to disturb the moment.


The stillness allows me to hear my thoughts much more clearly than I might the rest of the day. I am thankful for this. It gives me time to think about what I want this day to look like. I try to balance out the needs and the wants. I need to go to yoga, I need to do some painting, I need to clean the floors. I want to sit in a cozy corner and read, I want to play with my camera, I want to sit in a bookstore. I want to work on a project in the studio. A luxury to have choices.


Somehow the needs always win out. I'm looking to change that. I know it is only up to me. He tells me all the time that I need to take time to do the things I enjoy even as I wage this life long war against guilt. I know that it is imperative that in the end I win. Must learn to practice saying yes to myself as I would say yes to everyone else. This shouldn't be so hard.


I'm feeling nostalgic this morning. We celebrated our big girl last night, our dear, delightful Maddie. I'm just stunned that she is 23, a year older than I was when I had her. She has grown up so much and I think especially in the last 6 months. I am so very proud of her. She was responsible for my first stretch marks, gray hair and sleepless nights and also responsible for teaching me about unconditional love, true joy and pride. She is vibrant, hilarious, outgoing, dramatic, loyal and beautiful. Inside and out. I'm enjoying watching her settle into adulthood and her work with autistic children. She has come into her own. My wish is that she could see herself the way I see her. In fact we would probably all be better off if we could see ourselves through the lens of those that love us.


It is getting light out but I am not ready to give this quiet moment up quite yet, so I will close this laptop, open my book, and settle in until the kitty leaves, giving me permission to get up and get on with my day. I so hope he doesn't leave for awhile.