Before & After: Eclectic Spanish Modern Bathroom

Ok dudes. Today I'm talking Before and After of my Almeria project bathroom. I don't know if you remember....but this house was cute AF and straight up my alley. Like seriously the most perfect project. It was in the Coronado Historic District here in Phoenix. It had all the small closets, arches and REAL hardwood floors your heart desires. Swap out the Spanish style to traditional and this might as well have been one of my Cincinnati flips. To give you an idea of the style of the house, check out the exterior below.

The bathroom in question was very interesting when I got it. Very.

Clearly this was all coming out, but nothing much was going to change as far as the layout was concerned. It's a small bathroom and the only one in the house. The only thing to do here was to max it out design-wise. I also wanted to make sure it was light and bright. Here is the design I put together.

Almeria bathroom design board

Obviously that dresser was not going to fit in there. It was just a place holder. I had to go out and find the right vintage dresser that would fit which I found at Zinnias At Melrose almost immediately. Next up was deciding on the focal point of the room. I found the ogee pattern tile at Floor & Decor and decided to put that on the back wall of the room, the window wall in the shower. In order to keep the rest of the shower from competing with the accent wall, I chose a regular ole subway tile with white grout. With white walls in this bathroom, the subway should fade away. And it did. 

Ogee tile accent in bathroom

For the flooring I decided to do marble, also from Floor & Decor, in a herringbone pattern. The finishes I decided was going to be brass. I could have gone with my go to Delta Trinsic shower faucet, but found a different style I thought played a little better with the ogee tile. I liked the subtle details on the shower head. Something different!

Next, the lighting! Oh that light. I love it. I love how it is so dramatic. It really brought your eye line upward and filled out the higher ceilings.

And let's get to our favorite.... the Before and After!!!

Spanish style Phoenix home bathroom before and after

I think this bathroom turned out nice and bright, just how I wanted it. If you want to know where any of the items I used in this bathroom are from, just check the source list below!


Tile Floor - Sahara Carrara - FLOOR & DECOR

Tile Shower - Subway Tile - FLOOR & DECOR

Tile Shower Accent - Villa Heirloom Arabesque - FLOOR & DECOR

Toilet - Glacier Bay - HOME DEPOT


Towel Hook - Liberty - HOME DEPOT 

Shower Curtain - Fieldcrest - TARGET

Vanity - Vintage - ZINNIAS AT MELROSE

Counter - Sparkling White Quartz - ARACRUZ

Door + Doorknob - Original

Faucet Shower - Delta Addison - AMAZON

Faucet Vanity - Delta Trinsic - AMAZON

Mirror - Project 62 - TARGET

Plant Pots - Thrift

Sconce - LightCookie Parato - ETSY

Sink - Decor Star - AMAZON

10 Ways To Hack Your Renovation Budget

Sometimes I think everyone knows these things and then I learn they do not and it's not right! We must rectify the situation. Let me fill you in on few things I think might help you with your upcoming (or never ending) renovation!

1. Paint

Did you know you can buy whatever color you want at almost any paint store? Let's say you have a Home Depot gift card or coupon, but you like a Sherwin Williams color. No sweat. Just tell the paint mixer the brand, name and if you have it, the code that goes with the color. The same goes if you want a Behr color but want to buy at Benjamin Moore, etc. This is also convenient if you like a color from a brand that isn't nearby. If you are in the midwest but want a Dunn Edwards or Farrow and Ball color. Samesies. Depending where you are shopping they may not have EVERY brand but it's likely they have the majors. Also, pay careful attention to not just throw out a paint color and hope for the best. For instance, "Yo, I want Whisper White." Well guess what? Behr makes Whisper White and Dunn Edwards makes Whisper. Be careful.

2. Warehouse Deals

Did you know that Amazon Warehouse Deals exists? This doesn't just apply to renovation stuff, but I use it often for things like faucets and furnishings. Amazon Warehouse is where all the open box and return items go to be reincarnated. They even tell you in the description the condition of the item. Here is an example using one of my favorites, the Delta Trinsic kitchen faucet.


Warehouse Deal

You can see there is a $46 price difference only one is brand new and the other is "like new". Often times people open them and don't like the color or something but the item is fine. I would expect that happens a lot with the Delta Trinsic Champagne Bronze line. It is sort of an unusual brass, which I love, but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that find it to be not what they were expecting. That's when I swoop in and pounce on those bad boys. After they've returned them. To search for deals just look for the "Buy used" under the Add to Cart button. I used to think that meant someone was selling their old crusty faucet. Bahahhaa. Nope. You can also go straight to the warehouse by choosing "Amazon Warehouse Deals" in the drop down box next to the search bar. 

3. Trade Discount

If you are a flipper or designer in the business of doing renovations, you can apply for a trade discount with many retailers. Designers typically know this but flippers never consider themselves designers or contractors, so they don't act on opportunities like this. Flippers can get trade/designer/contractor discounts at a lot of places. Plumbing, lighting and decor stores will often throw you a bone if you show some semblance of owning a business that does renovation type things. Just ask.

Homeowners: If you are working with a contractor, but you are in charge of getting the finish materials, see if you can order under their account. They normally purchase these things and charge you for it but having you get the materials takes a lot off their plate. They may be willing. This really depends on who you are working with and what you have agreed to, though. Don't expect this with higher end full service contractors, obviously.

4. Freight

If you're ordering something pretty bulky or heavy and it has to be delivered by freight, it's going to be a pretty pricey delivery charge. For instance, cement tile (and other tile) is heavy and comes on a palette. Ain't no Fedex dude carrying that to your doorway. My first time ordering cement tile I was purchasing very little because that was all I could afford. Then I discovered that the shipping was just as much as the tile, doubling the cost! DOH! The trick is....if you or someone you know has a truck and can go pick it up at the freight company's site instead of them coming to you, you will save BIG TIME. I just picked some up and it was easy peasy. They called me, I drove over, they forklifted that shiznit into my truck bed, I drove away without breaking even the slightest bit of sweat! My client just did the same. She also decided to add more tile for another bathroom because shipping it with the original order wasn't much more, but ordering them separate would have been. Good deal.

5. Use Schlueter Strip Edges

I spoke about this in a previous post about tile edging, but let's revisit because this is potentially big savings. Some people choose pencil tiles and bullnose to make some fancy borders and edging. That's great if you are doing a fancy bathroom, but people on a budget can't play those reindeer games. Enter Schlueter strips or tile edging & trim as they are really called. Us people in the biz just call them Schlueter strips. Anyway, they are metal strips used to edge the side of cut tile. For instance they are often used on the side of a shower, around a shower niche or on a backsplash. Basically wherever a cut tile edge might be seen. Some people may turn their nose up to these strips saying they are not cool or fancy but I say SHUT IT. I'll decide if it is cool or not. And sometimes it is. My wallet always thinks it is cool. They come in many colors and finishes. I like to use white often because you can't even see it is there when used with subway tile. It also gives the design a little more of a modern feel than the traditional style of the bullnose. I also like to sometimes use it as a part of the design. If you used black in a black and white design, it would make a nice little black frame around a shower niche with subway tile. Below is a nickel finish strip used in a kitchen (before white was an option).

Shuleter Strip on kitchen backsplash

6. Two Singles

Instead of buying a double vanity, buy two singles. For instance instead of buying a 60" double vanity buy two 27" or 30" singles. For whatever reason the total size ends up being nearly the same but the cost is sometimes dramatically different. Most styles you'll want to separate the two vanities a little to make it look like two stand alone pieces of furniture. Be sure to plan for that extra space. 

Another idea is to take two vanity cabinets and butt them up against each other, but span one counter across the top. The vanity in the photo below was done this way.

7. Custom Island

How in the world this is possible is beyond my comprehension, but it's true. If you have a custom island table built, it will be hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars cheaper than a standard cabinet island. I had the island below made for around $700. To build an island of equal size with cabinetry would have cost that much before adding the counter. We'd also have to add electric to the island which in some cases can be very expensive (trenching up concrete is not fun if your home is on a slab). Assuming we would have used the same marble on the island, we're looking at a total price of more than twice the custom farmhouse table.

Space was tight in this kitchen. By designing the custom table I was able to fit a bit of storage underneath, as well as allow seating for two. Cabinetry would not have been so forgiving.

I just finished a design for a client that included a vanity done in a similar way. We had room for 2 sinks but the budget was tight. So, I had the same person make a farmhouse style table which we will convert to a double vanity. The table cost around $700, but a vanity with counters would be reaching $1,200 plus. Not only that, there's no way a vanity off the shelf is as cool as that custom made table.

8. Steal From Another Room

If you are having a photo shoot, or even just having company over, don't go buying something for every corner of your room. There are a few things I use in rooms in order to make them feel complete. Those things are usually blankets, pillows, plants, rugs and curtains. But, I can't afford to buy everything for every room. Especially if I'm staging a home, but this also works in your own home. If you're having company over, steal things like extra pillows or rugs from other rooms to fill in some holes. Maybe an extra plant would make it feel better, but having it there all the time would be cumbersome. For staging, I have a few plants that I bring from home for photo shoots that I move around the house. If I bought one for every room I'd have a heck of a time getting them all there and not damaging them. When the photographer arrives I am there to work one room ahead of them. I move plants, blankets, curtains and pillows from one room to another to get what I feel is the best look I can get. The plant below literally made it to each room in this house for the photo shoot. Why buy more when you can borrow from yourself?

9. You Don't Have To Be In Love

This is a funny one. No you don't have to love everything in your house! What I mean is not every freaking item has to be the best, cutest, loveliest version. For instance, when I'm designing a room, I don't choose all of the coolest looking tiles. I may choose one that is my favorite for the space and then the other 1 or 2 tile choices can just be a standard style that can fade into the back or complement the highlighted tile. I might choose the coolest lights known to man, but let the faucets be a less expensive version. They don't get to steal the show this time around. I love this game because it actually allows me to fall in love with something that is out of my price range or budget. I might go for the light I've been longing for even though it is $$$$, but I'll save a little on the cabinet hardware or tile floor by choosing less fancy versions. It balances out in the end.

10. Get Out

Living in a major renovation is THE WORST IDEA. I have so many points here so stick with me. I mean you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. But, if you are going through a major renovation, try to find somewhere else to stay. Obviously the major concern here is you might be living without a kitchen or bath for some time. You might have to heat your pizza up in the microwave in the garage. You'll have to share a bathroom with your kids. This will get old.

Every day you will come home to see what they worked on and you'll see maybe NOTHING was done. Maybe you'll see a crooked tile or what looks like a mistake (maybe it is, but maybe it just hasn't been completed yet). You'll become irate at their ignorance, but you haven't really given them a chance to fix the item or explain why the heck it was done that way.

Most importantly though, if you are are there in the morning getting ready, the contractor can't be there. If you come home from work at 4 or 5, the contractor will feel like they need to get out. They might leave at 4 because you'll be home soon and they might as well not start anything else. Stay somewhere else and they can show up at 7am and stay until 7pm to get things done. THEY CAN MOVE FASTER IF YOU ARE NOT THERE.

Then there is the construction debris. I don't care how they tape off a space, dust will get through. Paint will smell. It will be noisy. It will suck. You will be bitter. Trust me. Get Out.

These were just 10 off the top of my head. I know I have more! I'll post a follow up if I can gather some juicy ones. Comment with some other hacks if you have them!

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10 Ways To Use Subway Tile That Aren't Boring AF

I still love subway tile. Sue me. I know there are people out there that are so over it but I'm not one of them. It's neutral. It's inexpensive. It's timeless. What's not to love? I know it is all the rage to use cement tile, mosaic tiles and colored tiles and I'm down with that, too. But, there comes a time and place that you might want to use subway, whether it's to tone down a room a bit to balance out busy tile or you might simply like to have that classic subway look. Maybe you want to use subway tile for its nice price tag. That doesn't mean it has to be boring. Let's look at some bathrooms to see how subway can save the day.

Click any of the photos shown below to see more about that room.

1. Disappearing Act

Why not start this subway tile list with why I use it so I can't see it! Yeah it's like that. This might seem boring but actually it's PERFECT in helping the other tile STAND OUT. For instance, in the bathroom below, you can see the arabesque tile on the accent wall. You may not even be able to tell that the shower faucet wall has subway tile. THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT. I wanted the back wall of this tiny bathroom to stand out. Had I used that arabesque tile in the whole shower, it would have been quite overwhelming. Now, your eye goes straight to the back of the room making it feel larger, while the subway tile sits back and keeps that wall from getting in the way. To make sure the subway pattern didn't compete with the focus tile, I used white grout so it would all fade away. This is also a good with cement tile and busy mosaics.

2. Go Vertical

Subway tile doesn't have to be laid in the classic brick pattern. I've tried every pattern known to man in my renovations. Here is one where I did a vertical subway pattern with a 4" x 10" subway tile. The larger tile and the vertical spin makes this bathroom just a little different. 

3. Vertical In A Brick Pattern 

Want a modern spin but like the traditional look of subway tile? Turn it vertical and do a brick pattern on its long ends. For some reason vertical just feels modern. Pair it with a modern shower head and curtain. 

Pro Tip: When describing how you want your tile laid to contractor, be sure to draw it out on paper or on the wall! As you can see with this example and the one before it that we can call them both "vertical brick" but they are two different patterns! Don't assume they can read your mind.

4. Herringbone VERSION ONE

In the next kitchen we wanted to have a fun pattern but not get too crazy. There is a bold accent wall in the adjoining dining area, so we needed to stay a little low key. We chose to lay the subway tile in a herringbone pattern. To be sure the pattern stood out, we used a darker charcoal grout.

5. Herringbone VERSION TWO

While this isn't your classic white subway tile, here is another herringbone pattern example that could be done with subway tile.

Pro Tip: Again be sure you draw out how you want the herringbone pattern to go. I don't even know what this is called but I showed up to the house and this is how it had been installed. What I really wanted was a W pattern but I didn't draw it out. I thought W was enough words. It was not. I still like this way, too though! So, you can now see there is a third herringbone pattern which would be where it looks like W's or M's.

6. Modern Stack

Go ultra modern with this vertically stacked version. To make sure any subway tile pattern stands out, use a darker grout color.

7. Stick With The Classic 

Sometimes you just want that regular ole brick subway pattern! The master bath in this home got a wow-ing shiplap shower, so I felt like I needed to tone it down a little here as well as stick to a tight budget. So, instead of blowing my budget, I decided to stick with the classic but punch up the wow factor somewhere else. THE CEILING. The fun doesn't have to be all tile related. If on a tight budget, find your focal point outside of tile.

8. Go Casual

Using a more unusual subway tile can help add texture to your room. This tile from Floor & Decor adds texture to the walls without being too busy and taking away from the fun wallpaper accent. The tile has a wavy, wonky edge to it that gives it a more boho-relaxed vibe.

9. Go Formal

On the flip side of the casual tile, choose to go more traditional with a beveled tile. A bevel tile adds texture to your wall and an air of classic formality. I choose to let the bevel do the talking, not the grout. Keep the grout white to enhance that 3D effect.

10. Random AF

You could just throw them up there and they land where they land. That said this was not random. Ok it is but it isn't. My tile installer spent much much time laying these out on the floor so we had just the right look. I used this ombre pattern to represent the nearby mountains here in Phoenix. I used different colors to achieve an ombre look, but you can use just plain ole white tiles if you like. You could use a bunch of different colors. Break all the rules. It's your shower, dude

I know this is not an exhaustive list so I will be working diligently to tile more bathrooms and kitchens so I can post about them. :) Get with me if you need help designing yours! Maybe you'll make the next list!


Before & After: The Cozy Cactus Gets a Facelift

If you didn't know, I have a little condo here in Phoenix that serves as a vacation rental on Airbnb. This condo got a renovation late last year when I bought it and has had two tweaks since. For some reason it just wasn't showing well in the photos. Nothing to do with the photos either. Those were as good as they could get. The problem was I tend to have a mental block when designing my "own" spaces so in the end it just felt like a hodge podge of things. Just like my own home. Blah. 

So, I decided to do what I always do when I get in the way. I pretend I'm not me. I treat my own project as if it is not. I pretend I'm working for a client home or one of my flip homes (Those don't seem like mine for some reason. Maybe because I know they are mine only temporarily). Instead of thinking about what I want, which is everything, I think about how I could make it look great for a magazine or for a client. I narrowed the plan and stayed on track rather than just saying hey I love this turquoise sofa let's put it in here.

First task was to tackle the biggest issue, the coloring. The condo has Saltillo tiles and a brick wall, so the room is saturated in an orange-y pink. The brick wall I like, the floors, eh. Phoenicians are so over Saltillo, but those from outside the area like it. It feels authentic I guess. I don't have the money or time to take out the tile so I did what I could to soften it up with ALL the rugs. Rugs everywhere! So much cozier.

Next I decided to up how many this condo can sleep by adding a sleeper sofa. Before it slept 4 but now it sleeps 6. I decided to go with a gray IKEA sofa to cool down the warm tones and lighten things up a bit. I think it worked. I also removed the brown coffee table and side tables to eliminate that brown/orange-y tone. I added a Jenny Komenda print to bring in some cooler colors while sticking to the cactus - desert vibe. I'd like to add some white curtains to this room as soon as I figure out how to hang them. The ceiling and the windows meet at an awkward angle right next to a ceiling beam so some creativity is needed. I'd also like to add more desert feeling pillows and more greenery, but I need to pace myself with the spending. There's time. Below are the before photo when I bought the condo, two versions of the living room and then followed by the current version. I think I'm finally getting it right.

Another change to the space was in the kitchen. Not a major overhaul, but adding that shelf really helped balance the room. I already completely renovated this room and added plenty of cabinetry back in the fall, so the shelf really wasn't needed. However, without it the room just felt really unbalanced with all the storage on one side. The crazy cactus wallpaper still shines through behind the shelves. I'd love to do some window treatments to spruce up that area but for now this will do. BABY STEPS! Below is the kitchen before i renovated it, then the first version of it after renovation and then now. And yes now there is a rug in there, too!

Next was the master bedroom. This is such a cozy bed and room but again the Saltillo tile and brick wall made it very orange-y pink and cold feeling. Black curtains weren't helping. What was I thinking? They're great curtains, just not for this room. So, I softened up the room by swapping them out for gray versions, throwing not one but two rugs under the bed, adding vibrant throw pillows and another lovely Jenny Komenda print. Below is the space when I bought it, then version one and then the current deal-io. Funny how pillows, curtains, rugs and art can completely change a space.

Speaking of, I did the same thing in the second bedroom. Despite this room being all white walls with just the tile to deal with, it still felt dark and heavy. What is wrong with me? I quickly got to work changing out the rug, curtains and throw pillows. I also removed the basket (hello another dark thing) and hung a FringeFortyFour tapestry

Cozy Cactus Second bedroom before facelift with basket on wall and dark accents

Finally, out on the back patio I added a little more of what I wanted this Cozy Cactus Retreat to feel like...a relaxing place to unwind after hiking, working or spending the day at a Spring Training game. I found THE CUTEST hammock chair on the entire planet. And guys no joke it was only $62. I swear. Will people drink their coffee in it while reading in the morning or pass out in it after hitting the Scottsdale clubs? Don't know. Don't care. Just don't fall out. The thing was finding this Husky velcro strap that easily hangs the chair from the tree. The strap goes on so easily, being that it's velcro, and doesn't damage the tree.  It even holds up to 300 lbs. If you want to get a hanging chair of your own, you can throw it up on a tree while you're camping and easily remove it to take it home. Cool, right?

So there, now I have a much cozier Cozy Cactus Condo for guests to relax in. If you'd like to book a stay while you're in Phoenix, click the button below to check availability! We hope you'll enjoy your stay!

Flipper Tricks: How to Finish Off Tile Edges

When you're in the renovation biz, you'll come across all sorts of problems you never even considered. What you think is a simple project, installing a backsplash or tiling a shower wall, creates other problems you must then solve.  GRRRR!

One of those issues that has turned up for me countless times is how to finish off a tiled edge. One might assume with bullnose tile. Of course! But that's not always an option or maybe not even preferred. Sometimes, matching bullnose tile is not available at the store. And, let's assume that we don't have cabinets to finish off the top either. Even if we do, there is often that inevitable area that juts out just passed the cabinetry that needs to be dealt with. What then?

You have several options.

Custom Bullnose

Yes. You can have bullnose made. Here in Cincinnati (they have other locations), I head to American Bullnose. I bring my tile with some to spare, they chop them up, round them out and hand them back ready to go. Of course, not all tiles can be transformed into bullnose tile. Such as in the case of the beveled tile, the texture would create a problem and cannot be bullnosed. Below is a shower created with custom bullnose tiles, placed on the outer wall edge, as well as surrounding the tub. 


Schluter Edge Strips

One popular option is to use Schluter metal strips  to make a straight finishing edge to your tile. These can be used anywhere tile is laid: showers, floors, backsplashes. These are nice because they come in an assortment of finishes and shapes. An example of this can be seen below at the top and side of the backsplash. Nickel was chosen to coordinate with the other nickel fixtures in the room. They now have white which blends nicely with subway tiles like those shown.

Caulked Edge

If you don't want to add another color or element to your kitchen, another option is to caulk the tile edge to finish it off. Have your installer fill in that corner between the tile and wall with caulk to match the grout. Matching grout caulk is available at most hardware stores next to or in the grout section. This will take some precision! Your installer must be very careful with the tile alignment in order to create a nice straight line. They must also be good at getting a smooth finish with the caulking. You don't want a bumpy caulk line, calling attention to the lack of precision instead of the beauty of the tile. However, if the caulk line strays a little onto the wall, touch it up with some wall paint and call it a day. 

Trim It Out

Finally, you could use a very thin wood trim piece such as quarter round or scribe molding. Paint it the same color as the tile so it doesn't stand out. With the extra thick cement tile used in this kitchen, we used some cabinet trim to finish off the sides of the backsplash. The color coordinated perfectly so we didn't need to paint it. 

It's silly to think that this kind of detail goes into kitchen or bathroom, but it does. Best to have these tricks in your arsenal so you are ready when the time comes! Go get 'em. 

Any ideas I missed? Any other issues you might be dealing with right now? Lay it on us in the comments!