Idea Sex: A Capsule Wardrobe for The Home

I hate clothes. They are a waste of effort in my opinion.

I couldn't even sift through photos of clothes to choose one for the top of this post. 

They are too tight or too itchy or make you feel ugly and frankly I can't stand the energy it takes to even think about what to put on. Add on to that the fact that you buy something and the next day you get bacon grease on it, it shrinks, or has a hole in it. What a waste of time and money. Plus, shopping sucks.

I am typically at construction sites, so I usually look like a slob with sweats on and a ponytail. I've been lucky that it doesn't matter much up until this year. I have been fortunate enough to take on several design projects for clients and I love it! Problem is that now I now have to show my face. Can someone really take me seriously looking like I just showed up from PE class? So, I've been pondering a uniform of sorts. I don't want to think, I just want to get dressed and look like a girl who might know how to design something. I don't need a closet full of polyester (none please!), just a few things that each go together despite the minute by minute changing Ohio weather. 

In comes the capsule wardrobe. Sadly, I didn't invent this like I thought I had. A capsule wardrobe is a set of clothes for a season that you can mix and match freely, no thinking. See more about capsule wardrobes here. Despite these ramblings, this is not a post about clothes. I always wondered why I could design the crap out of a room in 5 minutes but couldn't design my own outfits. Then it hit me: 

I struggle with clothes the same way my clients struggle with interior design. 

Thus, the Renovation Design Capsule was born. Want to put together a renovation design and not have to think about it? A template might help! I gathered all of my go to paint colors, materials and finishes into one design deck. Each of these I use all over the house whether it's in the bathroom, kitchen or living room. No, you don't have to worry about if you have nickel finishes in the kitchen but want to use gold in the bathroom. They can be mixed and even in the same room. You don't have to think about what color goes with what because everything on this deck can sit side-by-side with the others. 

These are the basics I like to use and am using in my current flip house to create a peaceful, yet pulled together look. See it in action in the kitchen of my latest project. Forgive the wretched photo. This house is still under construction. 

 In the above photo you can see 10 of the 20 go-to finishes at work here:

  • Behr Ultra White white walls
  • Behr Iron Mountain painted doors
  • Matte black door hardware
  • Carrara marble counter
  • Stainless steel range 
  • Brass cabinet hardware
  • Black overhead lighting
  • Natural wood trim and shelving
  • Gray shaker cabinetry
  • Wood flooring laid in a subway style pattern

"But, Wendy, what about your cement tile? That's not in your capsule!"

You are so so observant! I don't believe the capsule is meant to be taken so literally that only gray tile should be used or navy blue paint or marble counters. Mix up the aspects of each of item to maintain a cohesive look. Idea sex if you will. The colors are all present in that cement tile. It works. Here are some other options, some of which are scattered throughout the rest of this home.

  • Porcelain hexagon bathroom floor tile
  • Navy blue painted kitchen cabinetry
  • Marble subway tiled shower
  • Reclaimed plank accent wall

Another of our home designs from this year followed the same templates. 

In this kitchen we have at least 8 of the 20 capsule pieces represented:

  • Reclaimed wood on the island
  • White ceramic subway tile backsplash
  • White shaker cabinetry
  • Stainless faucet, cabinet hardware and range hood
  • Oil rubbed bronze pendant lights
  • White painted walls
  • Marble and ceramic decor

 

Now, you can go ahead and be like one of the commenters in the capsule wardrobe post I linked to that says,

"This is BS! What about color!? I need color!"

Don't be an idiot. But seriously, guys, this is not set in stone. Add one color, or two even! Do whatever you want. It's your house. Or, follow the scheme set forth and punch it up a bit in your decor. You can see we broke up much of the bright white with the natural wood tones, and black and yellow decor. 

What's even more impressive with this Design Capsule is that it can work with any style of home. Traditional, modern, transitional, you name it...it all works. The first kitchen shown at the top of the post is a transitional kitchen, the second is an industrial-modern kitchen, while the third is a rustic cottage style. You can't break this theory! It works!

Using a model like this Renovation Design Capsule keeps one from feeling complete overwhelm, venturing off into the design black hole. Sometimes it's best to work within a constraint. Not so much that you feel you won't get what you want, but enough to keep you from considering EVERYTHING on offer. 

And once again, DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE NEUTRAL ZONE. Everything looks cozier once you add back in the furnishings and decor.

As a side note: I'm not really sure why I dated it Winter 2016 since these tried and true "rules" work in any season. The colors are neutral; the patterns are classic. I don't see this changing much over the seasons or years even. As evidence I'd like to point out that these three kitchens were all designed in different seasons and different years. Perhaps navy blue will get the heave-ho at some point and herringbone will be so last year. Who knows. If that should happen, Renovation Design Capsule 2.0 will be created with a new date or name. 

Do you have an rooms that matches this template in your house?

 

Bathroom Remodel for Under $6,000

Look at my client's bathroom in all its brass and carpeted glory. Brass is actually making it's come back....but not like this. Luckily, this is BEFORE. Before it became kick-ass for only $6,000. 

carpeted bathroom

So, what's amazing about this bathroom is the team effort. Last year, Keith came to me with questions on what to do to his bathroom, but on a budget. This is when my client design business was born. I've been flipping houses for 9 years now but had never really branched out into working with clients.

We started with him sending me photos of his bathroom in the current state, in addition, he sent me photos of things he liked. I ran with it. A short while later I sent him back a design board showing him everything he could use in his bathroom, a spreadsheet with the costs and location of each item and a total budget for all of the finish materials. Here is his design board. 

gray bathroom design board

Next it was his turn. Like I said, he was on a tight budget. He ran the project, hiring a contractor and making sure the contractor was responsible for all building materials. Then, he used the design board and spreadsheet and used them as a jumping off point. He was able to find a vanity similar to the one in the inspiration board on sale at Home Depot, saving him several hundred dollars. Along the way, though, he fell in love with marble tile. So, he used those savings to splurge on higher end shower tile instead of the more budget friendly white ceramic subway tile. To save some more money, he reused the jacuzzi tub and shower pan that were both still in good condition. In the end, he was able to completely flip his bathroom from carpeted 70's cave to bright, fresh, clean place to .....get clean for just under $6,000! Check it out...

marble bathroom gray

Don't mind the gold overflow cover. Nothing to see there. Rome wasn't built in a day people. It may or may not still be gold 9 months later. Anywhoooo, Keith LOVES his new bathroom. Not only is it decked out with his favorite, marble, but it didn't cost him an arm and a leg. 

"Wendy made it easy with the spreadsheet because I was able to keep track of everything I needed to buy with an estimated price so I wasn't shocked about anything in the end"

I'll take that to the bank. 

If you're interested in doing something similar to your space but need a little nudge in the right direction, get your own design and spreadsheet budget. Contact me for more details or check out the different options on the design page button below! 




Bathroom Design: Rustic Modern + Funky

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Before

Yet another bathroom in need of some serious help! The owner of this tired bathroom, Jen and her husband, are tired of the small outdated look of their bathroom. They have room in their master bedroom to extend the bathroom a bit. They also wanted to incorporate the current walk in closet into the renovation somehow. Their main focus was to expand the bathroom space with hopes of adding a garden tub. I was up to the challenge. Here's the current space. 

Master Bedroom wall with closet and bathroom entrance
Vanity wall in master bath

Layout

The current layout, as seen in the top drawing below, has a long and narrow bathroom and closet. The entrances to both rooms tie up the entire wall space of the master bedroom. The new layout, shown in the bottom drawing, bumps that bathroom and closet wall into the master bedroom space allowing the bathroom footprint to expand in both length and width. The master closet gains just 7 sf but is no longer visible from the bedroom. 

The new layout allows a ton to happen for the new rooms. 

  • The entrance to the master closet is now through the bathroom. This frees up that wall in the master for a dresser or seating area. It also allows one person to sleep in peace if the other person is getting ready earlier in the morning. No going back and forth from the closet to the bathroom. 
  • The bathroom was widened and lengthened in order to add a garden tub. It's placed at the end of the room in front of the window while a stand up shower sits next to it. They can be separated by glass in order to keep light flowing through from both directions. 
  • A sliding barn door is added to the bathroom instead of a swing door in order to keep the floor space in front of the vanities free from obstruction. This could be a pocket door if they prefer that style.
  • Because of the garden tub addition, the linen closet had to go. This is not a deal breaker in my opinion. That extra 7 square feet in the master closet could house linens and other bathroom items and could be placed directly in front of the doorway between his and her clothing areas. Another option is to add shelving above the garden tub and toilet. They may also decide to choose vanities with drawers for greater organization. 

Issues

An issue in any situation like a layout change is dealing with structural supports. I have not been in the space, nor am I qualified to make structural decisions, so Jen and her husband should rely on a contractor and structural engineer before deciding to move any walls. Usually walls can come and go, it's just a matter of counterbalancing the weight of the structure somewhere else. Plumbing, venting and electrical will also need to be rerouted. Moving and removing walls always seems so easy and fun but there is always a price tag involved.

Design

Jen wanted something modern but with some funkiness to it. I'm always looking for renovations to last fore a long time so I go with funkiness in the decor, not the renovation. I rip out too many old bathrooms and kitchens to feel good about putting something back in that will be dated in the near future. So, I like to go with good ole trusty subway tile which will be in for quite a while. The easiest to swap out is the decor. Add some funky artwork and a funky rug to spruce it up and she can change it out when she bores of it or wants a different color.

As always, I love hearing from everyone about their likes and dislikes about designs. Call it research. What do you think? If you like something let me know. If you don't, constructive criticism is appreciated. :) 

Interested in your own design but have questions? Contact me on the contact page! See your options by clicking that box below.

 



Living Room: Cozy Modern Loft

This one is for me! I'm like the cleaning lady who doesn't clean her own house. I'm the design and renovation chick that doesn't do a dang thing to her own house until now. I have just one house right now, with not much renovation needed. So, I finally have time to work on my own house. Condo, that is. Can you believe I've only painted one room in the place since it was built 7 years ago.

For shame. 

The white walls were comforting for a while, I've got to be honest. With all of the neutral colors I was putting in the other houses, I kinda learned to appreciate the blank canvas. I also just couldn't commit to anything. One month I wanted this, the next that. What to do? Finally, this year I decided to put a design board together so I could get it together once and for all. 

Before

Ok this is embarrassing. Don't judge. 

Modern Loft Before

Yes, that's a baby gate in the fireplace. We can finally take it out with only a slim possibility that my 2 year old will dive in headfirst to play with the rocks. Yes, that's a monitor on top which we plug our laptops in to play shows and movies. Look, we've been traveling ok? We sold everything we owned a few years ago and just never committed to putting a home back together. Get off my back. I'm working on making this place more legit!

Anyhow, we're keeping the rug bc it hides lots of little kid droppings like broken crayons, trail mix, you name it. It's like the cave of lost things. A keeper. The couch can go. It's lame. Maybe we'll even get a real TV.

GASP!

Moving on. 

The Plan

 

Some of these things we already have. This is the good thing about making a design board. It can include things you already have and want to keep, just add the rest of the stuff to coordinate. This way you can see it all together rather than trying to imagine it all working out. For instance, the rug, the coffee table, the maps and the artwork are already things we own and like. The concrete ceiling and the fireplace are parts of the room and cannot be changed but will play a part in the design. As for the rest...

  1. Sofa: We need something that is more modern can fit in the small room and is comfortable. A couch should be, no? Otherwise, what's the point?
  2. Chair: The Eames lounge chair is a dream. I want it and have wanted it for a while. I'm a sucker for vintage, mid-century modern. Preferably the chair I find is the real deal, in good condition and the leather is nice and warn in for me. 
  3. Plants: This place is filled with hard spaces. The ceiling, pillars and floors are all concrete and the entire east wall is steel and glass. We need a little nature up in here. 
  4. Charcoal Gray Accent Walls: I love that most of the condo has white walls. It's bright, airy and different than any of the homes I renovate. I do think it needs a little bit of color, though. I know gray is probably not a color. Oh well. It's happening. I'm going to paint the walls behind the sofa and fireplace Behr Evening Hush. I may also take it to the fireplace wall, too. 
  5. Barn Wood Accent Wall: This may or may not happen. I'm up in the air about wood accent walls at this point. I love them, but they are EVERYWHERE. I think it might warm up the space a little but am hesitant about spending the money. If I do go forward with it, it will be installed on the fireplace wall which extends to the second floor and into the loft bedroom. 
  6. Accents: The rest of the items are a throw blanket and some plants. The room needs some life and warmth so these will just round out the edges. And who wouldn't want to pick some fruit straight off their own potted tree? Duh.

That's it for now. It's a small room with a lot going on structurally and height wise so I don't want to clutter it with too much else. I'll update you as I update the room. First, paint. Woo! 

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Kitchen Design: Minty Vintage

The rental property I recently purchased is in the process of being updated. It was already in good condition, for a foreclosure, but needed a little fanc-ification. The location of the house is interesting. It sits on the edge of the most desirable neighborhood in Cincinnati and shares the same zip code. It is also just one block from a town square with restaurants, cafes and cute shops. In order to attract good tenants, I wanted to make sure the home was cute, comfortable and up to the standards of the nearby neighborhood. Most changes will be in the kitchen where it was in good condition, yet builder basic and boring. 

Before

Kitchen Before with Oak Cabinets
Oak Cabinets in kitchen Before Update

You see here that this kitchen is a snooze-fest. Nothing special or blingy here. We have oak cabinets, vinyl flooring, mismatched appliances and bright yellow walls. Everything in here is usable and in good condition. Not everything will make the cut, though. I want to make this kitchen attractive to potential renters looking in this area, but I still have to keep my budget in mind. Every dollar in is straight out of my pocket and not coming back for a long, LONG time. Everything I do to this kitchen must be attractive, but stand the test of time of tenants to come.

The Plan

I need to give A Lovely Lark props for inspiring this here plan. Why reinvent the wheel when someone has already made the wheel for you? Am I right? Still, there's a little more to it. I'll need to keep as much as possible in this kitchen. Luckily, there is a lot in this room I can work with. Let's get into the what and the why....

  • Cabinets: They are in great condition and clean. They're staying. A coat of paint will update them and will be easy to repaint in the future when they become dingy or dinged up. I'm painting the upper cabinets Behr Ultra White and the lower cabinets Behr Smokey Slate.
  • Walls: Every room in the house is painted a different color. It's like a clown house. Pro Tip: don't do that. It makes the house feel segmented and smaller. I'm repainting the whole place a nice neutral gray called Behr Silver Drop. 
  • Floors: While vinyl floors are not my favorite, they are in good condition and work with the new design. This house is on a slab, no basement. So, because there is concrete below the vinyl, not wood, I'm not as concerned about water damage as I would be if there were wood subfloors. 
  • Appliances: I'm not liking the mismatched appliances. What is good news is that they are all in good condition and the stainless steel range can be sold. That money can go toward a new matching white one.
  • Counters: This is where I'm breaking the bank for the bling. Granite. Yes, I'm taking out the decent laminate counters. There's debate on whether granite is in or out. Personally, I still like it. I prefer natural materials over fake stuff. Any investor within 100 miles would tell me I'm nuts. I don't care. I have my reasons. They are:
    • I think it will completey transform this kitchen. 
    • I think a renter will prefer it over laminate. 
    • I believe granite counters will hold up for many many years compared to the laminate when it comes to tenant use and abuse.
    • The laminate is ugly.
    • I want it. I mean it IS my house. I can do what I want with it.
    • The cost of the granite is comparable to changing out laminate a few times, which I will have to do every few years give or take depending on wear and tear by tenants.
    • Did I mention I want it?
  • Backsplash: I very much dislike splattered grease and junk running down a painted wall. It's impossible to clean. So, I'm adding subway tile with gray grout which should be easy to clean up. The gray grout will hide any staining unlike white grout which will yellow over time. Remember, I'm keeping this house for a long time so style and material longevity are important. 
  • Hardware and Fixtures: This house has glass doorknobs with brass collars. It's cute and antique-y. I want to play off of that with the cabinet hardware, so I went with vintage-y looking bronze knobs, pulls and faucet. I know these colors don't necessarily match, but matching is OUT in my opinion. My contractor is skeptical, but who asked him anyway? Don't even ask him his thoughts on the base cabinet color.
  • Accessories: I won't be staging this house, or adding any artwork, but I the Etsy print and potted herbs work with the vintage theme rounding out the design.

Luckily, we won't have to wait too long to see an after photo of this kitchen. Work is underway and should be complete with in a week. Stay tuned for the big reveal very soon!

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