DAY 19 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Vanity

Channel the DAY 7 Kitchen Cabinets and DAY 13 Clear Your Counters vibes from the kitchen and whip your vanities into shape!

STEP 1: CLEAR IT

Take all the shit out of it. Take all the shit off of it. Rearrange. Reorganize. Purge the shit. The end.

STEP 2: PAINT

Paint that thing. It will take less than half a day, hopefully.

STEP 3: HARDWARE

Add some. See some hardware I posted about on DAY 7 for kitchen cabinets. Here are the ones in the photo above.

STEP 4: COUNTER

Getting trickier here. Several options here:

  1. Add some stone like we did here with this marble look quartz. This cost something like $300 maybe. I can’t remember. Definitely wasn’t more.

  2. Replace it with butcher block (from Floor & Decor or the like). That is easy to cut if you have a circular saw or know someone who does. Seal it with butcher block oil or poly.

  3. Replace with a simple counter sink combo from Home Depot like this one or this one. Those are nice because they are simple AND include the sink.

STEP 5: SINK

Some people dislike vessels. I get it, it makes the vanity taller. If you have a lower vanity, like the one in the photo, it actually helped to make it taller without replacing the whole vanity. I also prefer the flat bottom vessels, like this one I have bought about 10 times, because the ones that look like a bowl end up spinning and leaking.

STEP 6: FAUCET

No need to replace it if it’s fine, but if you do, refer to DAY 14 for some good faucets to purchase.

STEP 7: STORE IT

Find a place for your toothbrush, your hair spray (do people still use that stuff?), your hair dryer, the hand towel…..all the shit that lays out on your vanity top. Put it away somewhere. Give it a home. Live free of crap in your face.

Check out the before and after of that bathroom with the updated vanity. Click on the photo to see more about that makeover

Below are the resources mentioned above in this post.

Go. Go forth and conquer your vanity and win your space back.

DAY 14 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Faucets

Wanna make life better? Fix a faucet. There are a ton of options on how to accomplish faucet new-ness and doesn’t always require a repairman or a plumber. Let’s dig into it….

ONE: Paint

If you read DAY 12’s post about painting, you’ll have seen the section where I recommended painting a faucet. In my MIL’s hall bath, shown above, we were going to leave the shower faucet ORB even though we were going matte black on the other fixtures. It was going to be hidden behind the shower curtain so we weren’t too concerned. Then, I got a wild hair and thought, hmmm, let’s paint that little mofo. I had painted the light fixture, why not that? I got her permission to experiment and if it ended up looking like crap after usage, we’d just replace it. The paint was a good inexpensive first step. We left the shower head, the tub faucet and the valve cover on. We papered and taped around the tub and shower to make sure no overspray would get onto the tile or ceiling. It worked! After about a year of usage, the paint is still holding up STRONG. Here is the paint we used.

See the post I did about this bathroom here.

TWO: Clean

Something else you can do to make your faucets like new is to clean them out. Calcium build up can really put a damper on water pressure. You can secure a bag of vinegar around it and let it soak for a few hours, then run some water to get the vinegar out. The water should flow more freely.

Another non-faucet related, but kind of related cleaning you can do came to me as a suggestion from Brenna Brooks of Brenlow Properties. She said she was having water pressure problems, so she had a plumber come by to see what was up. Turns out she had a ton of calcium build up in her old copper pipes. The plumber used some solution to rid it of all the build up and WA-LA, water pressure restored! So, it’s like a whole new faucet without getting a new faucet.

THREE: Repair or Replace

Call a plumber out to fix a leaky valve or replace the faucet all together. Who are we kidding, we really do just want a new faucet. Go for it. You can even replace a shower head all on your own. Just buy the shower head and some plumber’s tape. Wrap the tape around the direction of how the shower head will move around the threads. Easy.

If you want to replace a whole faucet altogether, here are some of my favorite faucets that range drastically in price depending on my project.

If you find one on Amazon, don’t forget to search in Amazon Warehouse Deals! If you don’t know what that is, just click on that link and search for the faucet or any other item! These are items that people returned for whatever reason. Some are damaged but most I find are like new or are new, open boxed items. They will tell you in the description.

Another way to get to it is to search on the Amazon home page and just choose Amazon Warehouse in the drop down box to the left. Practice by clicking on the photo.

OR….

When you have done a general search for something and the item has come up, scroll down below the price, add to cart button, etc and choose the “Used & new from…” link. That will take you to all of the used items and returns. You can choose to buy a used one from another vendor or from Amazon Warehouse. Click on the photo below to see where that circle link takes you.

Ok let’s get going on the faucet updates!

If you have any success with your faucets, whether paint, repair or a new purchase, show me! Use the #updatedon’trenovatechallenge tag!

Before & After: Clarendon Project Master Bath

I have so many rooms to post Before & After's for it's not even funny. I'll just start plugging away at it, though! Today I'll be talking about the master bath at my Clarendon Project. This house, if you recall, had an addition put on so technically this new bathroom is in the old master bedroom. The master closet, located beyond the door pictured above is the old master bath. Here's what that bathroom looked like before. A hot mess of yellow black and green.

Clarendon Project before photo of master bathroom

Even though this was a small bathroom, it does NOT equate to a small closet! Quite large in fact! But enough about the closet. Back to the bathroom. Here is the old master bedroom before it became a bathroom. Take note of that window's location.

Clarendon Project Master Bedroom before becoming a bathroom

Remember, I typically renovate smaller, older (and sometimes historic) homes. Renovating in these somewhat larger and higher end homes was newer to me a year ago. Since then I have done many more but this bathroom was planned more than a year ago before I became comfortable with the higher price range. So, I had to get used to remodeling a bathroom this large with soaking tubs and all that fanciness. To my surprise it's quite a bit more expensive! Soaking tubs and their plumbing fixtures are not cheap, yo. This house sold for around $600,000. Fanciness required!

So, without further ado, here is the after!

Master bathroom with marble herringbone shower and wall tile, black soaking tub and brass and nickel fixture finishes

To get your bearings, the window in the before bedroom photo, it is the same placement as the one above the tub. Obviously in the after it is larger and well...new. Still, same general location. Hard to believe someone's old bedroom became a bathroom, isn't it?

Let's Talk Design

I teamed up with The Builder Depot for the shower in this bathroom and if you know anything about them you know that they have ALL THE MARBLE. Yaaaassss. I had my heart set on a herringbone pattern so I jumped on their Carrara Bianco Polished 4x12 subway tile. I wanted the tile to be laid in a "WM" herringbone pattern (I just made that up) where the tile opening (like Pac-man) would face up and down, but when I walked in they had already started laying it like this. Is this called Pac-man herringbone pattern? I think so.

I was totally fine with this. In renovations sometimes you go with the "mistakes" because "fixing" it would've cost time and the result would not have been any better than what was already on the wall. This way looks great, too! Next time I'll be sure to write on the wall the direction the tile should go. Lesson learned. Or relearned I should say. I know this. It's hard to remember everything! So many details. I STILL MAKE MISTAKES!

Next was the tub. My first soaking tub order! Man was I delusional about how much this would add to the cost. Not only do you have to buy the tub, obviously there is a faucet needed and that is not cheap either. Add to that the cost and process of putting it there in the first place. Here in Phoenix we don't have basements. So, you have to bust up the concrete and create a trench for the new plumbing to run through. Not cheap.

From the beginning I had my heart set on this Signature Hardware tub. With that decided, I had to figure out the faucet. I was set on Delta's champagne bronze fixtures for the entire bath, but with the tub faucet being priced over $1,000, I couldn't bring myself to do it. So, it was time to mix finishes. I chose the Signature Hardware Carissa Freestanding Tub Filler which was a tolerable $629. The look was just about the same as the Delta so I went for it.

Signature Hardware soaking tub and tub filler faucet

We also carried the herringbone pattern across the wall under the window and below the tub as a backsplash of sorts (adding more to the cost of this bathroom).

Sorry I'm whining so much about the costs. If you do these sorts of bathrooms all the time then it is like YEAH DUH but for me this was a new layout and new price range... and a little overwhelming. I still design small bathrooms where the complete finish material cost is under $2,000 so to dish that out for just a tub and faucet was mind blowing. To be fair, Signature Hardware had great products and great prices in comparison to some others I was shopping. 

Moving on with the design, to balance out the nickel tub filler faucet I chose nickel vanity faucets. And can we talk about that marble counter!? OMG that marble is called Carrara Arrabescato and is basically the most beautiful counter I have over seen.

To keep the room balanced with the brass in the shower I put brass swing arm lights above the vanity. It's starting to sound like a circus of finishes but I think with the mostly white, gray color scheme, it's ok to mix the finishes a bit.

I had a bunch of tile leftover from another project so I used it here. Waste not want not! I was happy it kind of faded away to let the marble and tub shine! 

The only thing that I think would've made this bathroom better is some plants and other styling materials. But, when you are busting your ass to stage and get a house on the market, you forget these things. Or you forget to bring your smoke and mirrors in from the other rooms for the photos. :) I say smoke and mirrors but I hope you know I mean only in the styling for a photograph department. There are only so many plants and decor I can BUY, haul around, store and PAY to store. Maybe I need to do a post about this because nobody talks about it. NOBODY. I guess the lack of staging and styling really didn't matter, though, since this house was under contract in less than 6 hours!!!!

I was very happy with this bathroom and can only imagine how comfy that will be soaking in that tub! Let's finish this up with a good ole Before & After and the source list!

Colors and Finish Sources:

Doors: Dunn Edwards Novelty Navy DE6335

Doors: Dunn Edwards Novelty Navy DE6335

Walls: Behr Whisper White HDC-MD-08

Walls: Behr Whisper White HDC-MD-08


Schoolhouse Kitchen Design

I LOVE SMALL KITCHENS. 

LOVE THEM.

The wonderful thing about them is that there's hardly any room to spend a lot of money. So, the challenge becomes geometry more than anything. What's even better is starting from scratch. Tear it all out, put the water and electric where you want it and make an entirely reconfigured space. This kitchen started from this:

Luckily the slate was wiped clean. Almost everything was torn out including that door to the right. There was already another exit to the back deck so we didn't need the one in the kitchen. Fewer obstructions like windows and doors = so much room for activities! Here's the blank slate floor plan in which you can see the other doorway to the back deck (and basement) on the right. The original kitchen exit door was in the top wall on the rendering.

I went to work first on the layout.  This was one of the trickiest floor plans. The most obvious and frankly, the best possible scenario would have been to have a peninsula parallel the dining room (which is at the bottom of the rendering, out of the picture). However, this would mean either jamming the range and fridge together on the back wall (top of the rendering), or having the range in the peninsula.

Me no likey.

Putting the range in the peninsula would mean having a hood smack dab in the middle. I don't like that either. It blocks the view and clutters things up. Clutter is dumb. What to do!?!? I had to stop myself and demand that I think outside the box. Think of a different shape. Think of a different way. And then the clouds parted and the new layout was born. 

Like I said, it's not the ideal. The ideal would've been a nice bar area alongside the dining room, but that wasn't happening. In this new plan we get bar seating and space between all of the appliances. In order to have the bar next to the basement stairs and not feel like you were blocking the pathway, we used 12" wall cabinets that the contractor built up onto a base instead of using standard 24" base cabinets. Now the stools could slide under and out of the way. If you are sitting at the peninsula, you are 12" closer to the kitchen (further from the basement stairwell) than if you used standard base cabinets. 

Next was putting together a look. That was not so difficult. The schoolhouse-industrial vibe is big in Cincinnati, so I went with what the people (and I) like. I also wanted to make sure the small kitchen felt clean and spacious. So, I kept the color palette to black and white. Once you have a direction in your mind, it's a matter of plucking all the pieces that will make it happen.

Side note:

I knew Nicole at Revival Designs was going to be staging the home. I knew her stuff would look excellent in this space. Keep the appropriate decor and furnishings in mind! All kitchen designs can feel sterile if you don't consider the decor. I usually include items such as plants, kitchen gadgets and artwork in my designs so people can see how it will come together. Had I left out the cutting board, stool and the photo with the styled countertop, my client might not have been impressed. Design is not just tile and cabinets. You must be able to see the big picture.

The design turned out exactly as I had hoped. 

The floors under the layers of grossness were actually salvageable! I love how they run diagonally and much more interest than any tile could have provided.

This layout provides easy access to the kitchen from the dining room without having to walk around a peninsula. It also provides seating for three. Another bar stool can be added there on the end. Another perk of this design is the cost of the materials. You just can't get any less expensive than subway tile and black granite. Ok, you can, that's a lie. But, seriously these materials are both good quality AND classic design. There's always the allure of fancy tiles and higher end slabs, but usually it is unnecessary. 

And the ever popular before and after photo...

I love the simplicity of this design. Every detail from top to bottom was considered. It must've worked because this house, a house flip in Cincinnati, was under contract in 2 days! Did I mention I live in Phoenix? Long distance design is a thing. Design services for your space, wherever you may be, are available starting at $250. Click here for more info. More details about this kitchen are in the design board below. Click through to get info on each item.

Design Becomes Reality: Minty Vintage Kitchen

The frustrating thing about renovations, flipping houses and all thing construction is that it seems to take a frickin' frackin' backin' packin' ETERNITY to see the results. Usually just months, but still. The people want their AFTER pics!

Trust, so do I. Here you go...

Before and After Minty Vintage Kitchen Remodel Subway Tile Backsplash

Hooray! I like. So fresh and so clean (clean). Let's back up and see the entire process from beginning to end. Here's the before in big picture glory. 

Oak Cabinet Kitchen Before
Oak Cabinet Kitchen before renovation

Most landlords would leave this as-is in this price range. All of the appliances worked. Everything was in good condition. Maybe a coat of paint on the walls, a cleaning and call it a day. Not me. I just CAN'T.

Must. Make. Pretty.

But, on a budget.

There's a fine line between updating because an investment property and just renovating because I want it to be pretty. So, I started with an inspiration kitchen and took it from there. See the design board below. Thanks to A Lovely Lark for being making such an awesome kitchen to be inspired by!

 I wish I could have staged it with some funky vintage items , but I'm lucky I even got photos. This house was rented before we were even finished with it! 

A good problem to have....must not complain. Here is the real deal for your full sized viewing pleasure.

White kitchen with mint base cabinets and white appliances

This time my goal was to make a great tenant friendly, yet budget friendly space. These were my requirements:

  • Durable and can stand up to use and abuse over many years.
  • Can clean up easily.
  • Is a pretty space.
  • Is something to be proud to rent to others.
  • Is somewhere I would live. 

Many of these points are the OPPOSITE of most landlords. Durable and easy to clean are pretty standard, I think. I mean you'll get those people that don't care, they just want a body in there. For me, I want materials that will last. This is why I chose granite counters, a backsplash and to paint the cabinets white. These finishes are likely be in style for a while, are durable products and will clean up easily. The gray grout in the backsplash will stand up to staining over the years and the white cabinets can easily be painted over. 

I wanted the space to also be pretty and different than other rental homes. Such a #girlboss. Who wants to live in a builder grade snoozefest? If the tenant thinks it is special, they will take better care of it. They may also stick around longer instead of looking for greener pastures. Things will go wrong, furnaces will quit at 8pm on a cold winter's night. That's owning a home. That happens. But, not offering something that you can be proud of is not for me. I want to know that my home is a great place to live. I want to feel comfortable living there. If I do then it's likely my tenants will, too. 

Costs

This renovation was not expensive, as far as renos go. I mean in comparison to the full gut job renovations I usually do. Here are the costs to update this kitchen:

  • Labor: $1,200 --- Painting walls and cabinets + installing hardware/backsplash/faucet + fixing a plumbing issue + installing range hood/disposal + cleaning 
  • Appliances: $700 --- range + hood + disposal
  • Counter: $1,400 --- granite + single bowl stainless steel sink + installation
  • Other Materials: $300  knobs and pulls + faucet +  tile + grout + plumbing parts + etcetera....
  • Total  = $3,600 

Pretty good for the transformation, in my opinion. Not only does it look better, I feel confident it will stand the test of time for years to come. If mint flavored base cabinets are no longer as yummy as they seem right now, then we can easily switch to the avocado or burnt orange colors of tomorrow!