Thursday, June 30, 2011

Part 2: project #​1 bathroom renovation

Yesterday's blog chronicled the demolition and rebuilding of our basement bathroom- our first renovation project. The work was done by my father, husband and myself. Our budget was very itty bitty- I was a PhD student at the time so just imagine the finances!

Once the necessary but not so pretty work was done (gyp rock, plumbing, etc.), the exciting part began (tiling, sink and toilet, yes the toilet is exciting!).
My father installing the shower base and tiles.When buying a pre-made shower base, make sure it is a solid fiberglass base. Otherwise it's bouncy and susceptible to cracking.
Boxes and boxes of tiles. Heavy, very heavy!

Tiling the shower in a brick pattern. We went with a classic 12x12 marble tile for the floor and shower. I really like the color variations in the tile: brown, gray, blue, red, etc.
Tip: when choosing tiles for your bathroom my suggestion is to pick something classic that will not look dated ten years from now. Some classics are 12x12 square tiles and subway tiles, classic colors such as whites, grays, creams, are great. You can always pick modern paint colors for the walls or hang some funky art, but tiles are difficult, expensive and messy to change. 

The Reveal:
Clean, classic and pretty. I love it!
The clear glass shower door allows the beauty of marble tile to shine. I love the simplicity.

Not much I can say about the toilet- it works! I have a small basket of toilet paper in the corner- a must. Also you can see that there's a bamboo rug in front of the shower. I don't know why but I have an aversion to actual rugs in bathrooms. There are many nice ones out there but it's not for me.

The mirror is a brushed nickle finish with a beaded trim. Above is the light fixture and it has a painted rose pattern on it. I believe it is original to the house. It's quirky but I like it. The only thing is that the metal plate is bronze so I need to spray it either black or a nickle finish.  

The pedestal sink was the perfect choice for this tight space. I'm a believer that the more storage you have, the more stuff you buy and keep. I did place a storage cabinet above the toilet (see first reveal image above) but the cabinet is practically empty. It's a second bathroom after all. The trash can and soap dispenser are made of travertine.

Total Cost: approximately $4000-  not bad, eh?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Amateurs at work: project #​1 bathroom renovation

The first renovation project we delved into was the basement bathroom. It was the first room to "fall apart." What fell apart was the sink plumbing. You're probably saying "sink plumbing can easily be changed for a few dollars, no need to renovate the whole bathroom." You're right. BUT, the sink cabinet was really dingy and used. Also the shower drain had been clogged since the bathroom was renovated in the late 1970s. During the previous renovation, cement fell in the drain so the shower wasn't usable. Funny isn't it??

So we tore the bathroom apart. Not really sure of how to put it back together!!! With help from my father and youtube (lots of great how-to videos) we were able to put it back together.

Before I show you the renovation process let me show you two examples of what the bathroom looked like (since I don't have a before picture).

1. The toilet, sink and shower were in one non-partitioned room. Very convenient for those who wish to poop on the bowl and shower at the same time. Image from poop report.
2. The tile in our bathroom looked similar to this one but with some flowery tiles sporadically placed.
Image from Ugly House Photos

Here are some images of the renovation process:
The walls of blue flowery tiles were completely removed. On the other side of the cinder block wall is our garage.

This is the exterior wall. The black liner is the 1964 version of insulation. 
Amateur mistake #​1: We weren't thinking about insulation at the time so we did not add to it. Big mistake! The heater works overtime in winter.

Tony jack hammering the cement so as to change the  clogged shower plumbing. 
Amateur mistake #​2: We first tried breaking the cement with a small sledge hammer. Such amateurs!!
In this image you can see the old floor tiles. They were actually very nice, but we raised the bathroom floor since it was 6 inches lower than the rest of the basement floor which made for as very odd step.

Rotting plumbing. This was completely changed.

Heavy, very heavy!
Amateur mistake #​3: We didn't get a dumpster so we ended up filling about 40 cardboard boxes of trash and it took two weeks to get all the boxes out of the garage.

The floor was raised to a more even level with the rest of the basement using cement.

We used cement board on the shower walls because it's mold resistant. Highly recommended.
 Tony hard at work as he muds and sands the walls. We used moisture resistant drywall. Highly recommended.

In tomorrow's blog I'll cover the finishings chosen for the bathroom (tile, shower, sink, etc.). See you then!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

African Inspired Fair Trade Design

I was at the Montreal Jazz Festival last night and the band called Blitz the Ambassador was playing- amazing! I love the mix of old time big band with hip hop. The singer talked about the situation (politically, economically, etc.) in his homeland, Ghana, and in other African countries, a situation I am very conscious of and always talk to my students about. This made me think about how we, as decorating addicts, can help. My suggestion is only a small step, but it's nevertheless a step in the right direction.

 Idea: buying fair trade goods for our home. I've loved African style goods for a while but never really looked into buying them. There is much more to African inspired decor than a safari theme.

Here are some images of African inspired desire:
Style at Home: After a vaction in South Africa these home owners decided to recreate the feel of their hotel room in their master bedroom. Organic textures, rich colours and exotic patterns evoke the feel of the South African veld in this romantic master bedroom suite.
Text and image from apartment therapy: Wood carving, batik dyeing, and weaving are old art forms found across Africa, and you'll still find some of the best handmade stools, tables, and fabrics in places like Cameroon, Mali, Congo, and Ivory Coast (just for starters). I LOVE these little seating options.

Here are some websites where you can find some great fair trade items:
Baskets of Africa
Sisal Bowl   4.5 - 5.5 Inches $23
On an entrance console to catch your keys as you enter the door.

Swahili Wholesale African Imports
Zebra Hoof Stools. 
In a kids room.

Ananse Village

These are a few examples of beautiful fair trade textiles available at Ananse Village. Lots of bold colors and patterns. Image via Lotus Haus blog. Many more fair trade items featured on Lotus Haus

Want to shop for fair trade items in Montreal? 
 Try the Dix Mille Villages stores at the following locations:

Happy fair trade shopping!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Outdoor living: Teak Furniture

It's a beautiful day in Montreal and I'm soaking up the sun. Actually, I'm soaking up the shade- it's too hot in the sun!

I'm resting on a beautiful bench with some comfy pillows.

I have the bench on one side of my front porch and on the other side I decide to buy two chairs instead of another bench just to change it up a little:
I've had the set for a year now and the chairs lightened in color. Next spring I'll stain the chairs darker to match the other pieces.

The furniture is Hudson Hill and I bought it at Home Sense in Place Versaille, Montreal. I had been looking for years for furniture for the front porch but couldn't decide on the look I wanted. Unless I'm totally in love, I tend to think long and hard before buying furniture. I also like to buy piece that I know will age well. I'm happy I waited because the minute I saw the bench, I told my husband it was coming home with us.

Price: Bench: $199
         Chairs: $99 each
         Tables: $30 each (approximately)

These are great prices. Check out the cost of the teak furniture below:

Skagerak Drachamnn 50" Bench  $1,139.99

The matching chair is $625

Kingsley-Bate Chippendale 4' Teak Bench $630 

The matching chair is $531

Considering the similarity between my pieces and the more expensive pieces, I'd say I lucked out.
Wouldn't you??

My set was purchased last summer but if you're interested I saw some similar benches at Home Sense last week.

Hope you're also enjoying beautiful weather!


A facelift for our home: Brick cleaning and repointing

 Notice the dirt on the stones at the top of the house.

 All clean!

In the spring of 2009 I was sweeping my front balcony and noticed the mortar between the brick was crumbling- it was turning into dust! Almost 50 years of extreme sun in the summer and extreme moisture and cold in the winter meant that our bricks needed repointing.

Before we had the repointing done we decided to get the brick cleaned (brick cleaning must be done before repointing). I learned brick could be cleaned by pressure washing or sandblasting. I decided to go with pressure washing since sandblasting can damage the surface of the brick.

Pressure washing, if well done, will do the trick. There are various products that can be sprayed on the brick before washing to help loosen the dirt. Pressure washing also has it's challenges. The problem is that an amateur may hold the water in one spot for too long and this may damage the brick. Also, if the pressure from the hose is too strong or not evenly sprayed it may leave streaks all over the brick. In my opinion, this is not a DIY project. I would say it's too dangerous to be up on the scaffolds and the possibility of damaging your brick would be too costly a repair (approximately $15,000 per wall for my home!).

Once the brick was cleaned we had the joints repointed with whitish mortar. The difference is phenomenal!

Total cost: $3000
**Our brick had what's called bicycle joints meaning that the new mortar could simply be filled into the existing gaps. No grinding old mortar meant less labor and less cost- GREAT!

St. Louis Bricks Blo
 Tip: If you have an older home, I wouldn't suggest you sandblast your brick because old brick tends to be soft and can be seriously damaged.

Little bit of history: Old bricks were often sun-dried in fields. If you look closely you can often see animal paw prints on the brick of older homes (pre-1900). 

This was definitely worth the cost. Everyone who saw the before and after were astounded that it was the same brick. It now looks as if my house is smiling!


I'm attending:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sarah Richardson painting on The Marilyn Denis Show (and in 3-inch pumps!)

Sarah Richardson was on The Marilyn Denis Show today providing tips on choosing paint colors and also some painting tips. Her design style incorporates incredible amounts of pattern and color and it always works! Here are some of her tips for achieving her designer look.

2 paint selecting tips by Sarah:

1. Start by picking a fabric you love and use the colors in the fabric as your wall colors. I've tried decorating by first picking a color I love and then trying to match fabrics (throw pillows, drapes, etc.) and it's been a huge challenge!
2. Think of how different rooms open on to each other. Example: if you use a fabric you love in your living room, pull colors from the fabric into other rooms that are visible from the living room. This will help create a unified theme.
See the clip here:

Here are some examples of Sarah's fantastic use of color and pattern:

Let's play a game: How many colors can you count in each of these images???? 

See it on Arren Williams Design Lab
Seen on Centsational Girl
 Answer: LOTS
2 how-to-paint tips by Sarah:

 1. Always paint the edges of the wall along the trim first.

2. Paint using long strides from top to bottom- not zig-zags all over the wall!

See the clip here:

In the clip above you'll see that Sarah shows how to paint an exact line along trim with a paint bush. This is great for those who have a steady hand or for those who have painting experience (as does Sarah who says she painted homes to put herself through university- and she can even paint in 3-inch pumps) but for the rest of us, I suggest using a paint edger such as the one below, just don't get paint on the little wheels.
Paint edgers are available at hardware stores and cost about $5.

Happy painting!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's that I smell???

Yesterday my sister sent me a link about a new candle scent- New York Times Newsprint.
The article says "Your apartment's never smelled smarter."

My first reaction was to laugh but then I thought about my years in grad school sitting around and talking with fellow history geeks about our preference for the smell of old books vs the smell of new books. I mush prefer the old book smell- you can just smell the history!

So I searched for a candle with an old book scent. I didn't find one but I did find a candle with a new book scent

I then started thinking about the familiar smells of renovating. So for all you renovation addicts, how about the scent of saw dust in the air? A teen named Hart started a company making manly scented candles. The newest addition to the Man Can candle collection: dirt.

Also popular among the weird smelling candles is Fresh Cut Grass.
I remember that years ago The Gap had a perfume that smelled like freshly cut grass. A candle maybe, a perfume not so sure.

For the meat lovers out there, what about the smell of Sizzling Bacon?
The add says "All the wonderful smells with none of the calories!"

Candle companies are sure getting creative! Would you want your home to smell like newsprint or any of the other scents?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And now some vestibule ideas...

Now that I have the woodwork on the walls, I need to style the vestibule (see my previous blog).

Here is what I'm thinking at the moment (I change my mind often!):
For the color on the walls maybe BEHR Rhythmic Blue (on the left) or Light French Grey (on the right)
Seen on Fresh Paint Creations
Maybe too bright??

Accessories- an umbrella stand. There are tones of great ones out there. Here are some of my favorites:

Antico Umbrella Stand $330                 Ceramic Ivory $40

and my very favorite:

I love the classic look of the first four stands, the funkiness of the Fornasetti stand (you will soon enough learn that I love all that is Fornasetti!) and the fun look of the boot stand. Of course price plays an important role so I think the boot is my pick. What do you think?

 Design Sponge blogged about umbrella stands for under $100 a while ago- definitely worth a look.

Now for the wall decor, I'm thinking a blue and white collection of plates such as on this image:
image seen on decor pad

Or, a collection of small mirrors such as these:
Seen on Shelterpop
I like the mirror idea so I can check my lipstick on the way out the door.

And now I've got to get to work!

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