Bathroom Reno – Nov. 2016

When we bought our home last year, the one part of the house that gave us pause was the upstairs bathroom.

The house has a finished basement with a rec room, space for guests and a newly renovated full bathroom. There isn’t a bathroom on the main level (the previous owners took out the powder room when they renovated the kitchen and dining area to open things up and it was definitely the right call!), and then the three bedrooms upstairs share a single, full bath. The upstairs bathroom was the one part of the house that hadn’t been updated and it’s a pretty important part since all 3 bedrooms share it! We looked into the possibility of adding another bathroom but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it so instead we decided to simply renovate the existing bathroom to update it and make it more functional for our family.

It’s a small bathroom and we kept all of the fixtures in the same locations but we ripped everything out and replaced it all. Since the bathroom is not large (about 5’x7′) and I wanted it to be simple, with a consistent look and feel to the rest of the house, I felt like I could handle the design aspect and really just wanted to find a company to do the actual work (didn’t want to pay someone to pick out white subway tile for me!). I was pretty shocked and appalled when I started receiving estimates for the job but finally came across a company that was reasonable in terms of pricing and timing (Beautiful Home Services – totally recommend!).

We started the process with BHS by receiving an initial visit and follow up quote. After that, one of the owners came by the house, measured everything, talked through it with me and ultimately sent me a “buy-list” which included things like tile square footage, etc. so that I could start making purchases. We bought our floor tile through The Tile Shop and the mirror is West Elm but everything else was just Home Depot and BHS was actually able to use their account to get further discounts. They picked everything up for us and, once it was all in, they got to work.

There was a crew of 3 guys who did all of the work, ripping everything out down to the studs, rebuilding a new subfloor, moving a vent, and installing everything. They completed the job in 7 working days which we were really happy with. (All 4 of us relocated to the basement while the work was going on to stay out of the way and out of the dust so I was grateful that the work was quick!)

Now to the fun part – pictures!


Comparing subway tiles (1 of these is 6x more $$ than the other…) and floor tiles.


Finn watching everything get prepped for work to begin!


Although the work was upstairs, they were really good about covering everything on the main floor as well.


Everything getting ripped out!


Tiles going in!

OK now the before & afters:
BEFORE: Old green tile, no storage, old tub, small mirror, no style!
AFTER: White, bright, and storage!


Before 1


After 1


Before 2


After 2


Before 3


After 3


Before 4


After 4

The vanity and wall cabinet make the bathroom so much more functional for our family and the aesthetic is a major upgrade as well. Thankful we pulled the trigger on this one!

Nursery Tour

The nursery tour doesn’t take too long since the room is itsy-bitsy. That being said, we have done our best to make it a sweet little space for Culhane McGeever. Our inspiration for the room came from the little stuffed bunny in the corner of the crib. Also, anyone who knows Michael knows his favorite color is orange, so we went with that. Big props & thanks to Trent Hudson for making the Colt Harper sign, the side table beside the dresser and for hanging everything on the walls!

Back when I was pregnant -- getting the room ready!

Back when I was pregnant — getting the room ready!


Crib: Jenny Lind
Crib bedding: Trend Lab
Bed sheets: Target
Curtains: Target
Mobile & Stuffed Bunny: Blabla
Dresser: Ikea
Dresser Overlays: My O’verlays
Lamp: World Market
Toy Bin: Land of Nod
Changing Pad Cover: Land of Nod
Rug: Overstock
Boston Print: World Market (old – Michael has had it for years)
Shoes: Toms – From Godparents Mike Saign & Moira O’Connell!
Green Alligator Toy: Gift from São Paulo friends!
Orange Sweater: Hand knit by my Aunt Sheryl!
Colt Harper Sign: Hand made by Trent Hudson!

Apartment Tour: Master Bedroom

Much like the rest of our apartment, the master bedroom is itty-bitty.  As a general rule, bedrooms are smaller here since they are big fans of the built-in closets.  Anyway, we couldn’t fit all of our furniture in our room but we have come up with an arrangement that works for us.  Here is our room.

Since getting settled, our bedroom has gone through two big changes.

1) Mosquito Net.  We live pretty close to a big park so I think we get a few more bugs than usual.  But we also don’t have air conditioning so when it’s 97 outside, you want to open your windows and get a breeze coming through.  This creates the problem.  One night I was woken up by mosquitos buzzing in my ear 4 times and I woke up in the morning with 8 bites on my face and 9 elsewhere for a total of 17.  So…that was kind of the last straw.  Our dear friends actually had an extra mosquito net so we snagged it immediately and now sleep under this little guy, safe & sound.

2) Although many São Paulo apartments don’t have AC, we started getting a little worried when we were hitting record high temperatures for the city back in October (the equivalent of April in the US).  Fearing not being able to sleep during the summer months, we looked into installing AC in the apartment.  Not surprisingly though, it was too involved and therefore was not approved by our landlord.  So, we bought a portable AC unit for our bedroom.  It is quite unattractive but worth every second of the ugly as it makes sleeping at night so much better.

So that’s it!

My first-ever DIY!

Michael moved from Washington DC to San Francisco during the fall of 2009.  He shipped the little amount of furniture that he had in DC, and then drove a U-Haul from Phoenix to SF, bringing some new items from home.  One of the new items was actually not new at all, just new for him.  Michael’s mom had a great set of bookshelves that originally belonged to his great aunt that she gave him to bring.  We thoroughly enjoyed the bookshelves while living in SF, however it felt like it was time to give them a little facelift before we hauled them all the way to Brazil.  So… before we left San Francisco, while Michael was traveling for work, I attempted my very first-ever DIY project and painted them!  (Of course we agreed on this before he left.)

Some people are naturally artistic, crafty, and love doing projects like this.  I, however, was terrified.  I had never done anything like this before and was scared to death of ruining this antique, family heirloom.  That being said, I was inspired by photos online and especially by my dear friend, Emily Penn, and all of her DIY furniture makeover successes.  Emily introduced me to Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint which allows you to paint directly on literally any surface without having to sand, prep or prime the area first.  This was MAJOR for me as I never could have managed all of those additional steps.  This chalk paint is only sold in select locations so I drove an hour South to San Jose and picked up my supplies at Magpie!  The ladies there were very helpful and gave me some pointers before I headed out.  One more stop at Lowe’s to get a couple of brushes, tape and a painter’s tarp for the floor, and I was ready!

That evening I started the preparation process and moved everything off the shelves.  I pulled them away from the walls and laid down my tarp on the floor.  I got it alllllll ready but I was too scared to open the paint, so I decided I to wait until the next day.


PART of the MESS….

The next morning I woke up feeling super nervous.  I made coffee and tried to procrastinate, but since the place was such a disaster, I knew I had to just start the painting!  Here is how it went…


At the point of the photos above, I was absolutely petrified that I was effectively ruining this furniture beyond repair.  The first coat went on streaky and uneven and the wood was showing through quite a bit.  I was crossing my fingers that the second coat would be the difference, and it was huge!  I actually could have used some more in certain areas, but I ran out of the white (which says a lot for the size of these shelves — I had been told that this paint “goes on and on forever.”)  I debated going back to the store for more, and had it been just down the street, I probably would have, but at this point I just wanted the shelves to be DONE as soon as possible!  (And in reality, I will probably re-paint these in a few years something totally different.)  Anyway, after the white I wanted to paint the backs black to give it a little more of a modern look / some visual interest.


After the painting you rub on some wax and then buff it to finish it off (which, to be honest, I didn’t really do because I am lazy).  In the end, I am SO glad that I went for it.  I think they look great (enough) and are a much better fit with our furniture — especially given our apartment layout in Brazil.  I learned a lot and am excited about doing more projects in the future.  🙂  Side Note:  Still trying to figure out the hardware situation.  I painted all of the original hardware black but one of the knobs broke (hence the missing knob above) so… still a work in progress.  🙂

What do you think?!?!

Apartment Tour: Dining Room

Continuing the tour with the dining room!  

In our San Francisco apartment, Michael and I didn’t have space for a full dining table so we just had a bar-height 4 top.  Although it was the right thing for our space, we were constantly wishing that we were able to seat more people.  Furthermore, since it was bar-height, it was impossible to pull additional chairs up to the table.  I hosted a girl’s Bible study group every week (MISS YOU ALL SO MUCH!!) and it was like musical chairs – people constantly trading places depending on who was eating dinner or standing up eating in the kitchen…

Knowing that we wanted to be able to host people better in São Paulo, prior to leaving San Francisco, we sold our dining set on Craigslist and went hunting for something else.  Since we didn’t know what kind of space we would have in Brazil, it was a little challenging to know what to get, so we thought that an extendable table would be ideal.  That being said, both of us have had experiences with extendable tables that were clunky, difficult, heavy, etc. so we were kind of nervous about the idea.  However, we got lucky when we wandered into a random furniture store in Emeryville one day and described what we were looking for.  Right away, the owner of the shop took us to our table.  It has a really simple, attached, pull-out leaf that easily just pops into place.  Michael was fascinated / immediately sold so we went for it.

Pull table at both ends. Flip the extra leaf over & unfold. Push together. So easy I can do it by myself — which is saying a lot.

Obviously though, we needed chairs to go with it.  I really like upholstered dining chairs and think they are super comfortable, but we learned with our previous set that we cannot be trusted with food & light fabrics so I decided to go for charcoal gray to disguise any/all stains.  What I like about this too is that – while we normally have 6 chairs around the table – if we want to extend it to seat 8, we can always pull up the two gray side chairs that are in the living room.

Dinner party?  Visitors?  We must utilize this.

More of the dining area:

Mini wine fridge (thanks BWad!) with Michael’s mini “bar” on top. The two Tiffany’s boxes in the back are totally empty — I just can’t seem to get rid of them… Looking the picture though I realize I should at least move them elsewhere…

The first door on the left goes into our kitchen. The next door in the corner is the main entrance into the apartment.

**Coming soon: Post on my first ever DIY project — redoing the bookshelves on the right** 

Although I do think the table could really use some fresh flowers to brighten things up, it’s really not as dark as it looks in these photos since the space is all open and the walls are bright white.

So…when are you coming for dinner?!

Some credits: 
Table & Chairs: Decorium Furniture & Rugs
Buffet: Crate & Barrel
Vintage Tin Tiles: Pottery Barn
Mini Wine Fridge: Wedding gift from our dear friend, Bradley Walbridge
Crystal Decanter & Cocktail Glasses: Wedding gift from Tiffany & Co (hence the boxes…)

Apartment Tour: “Office”

So, I think it’s pretty clear why “office” is in quotation marks.  It’s obviously not a real office.  It’s a wall in between the door into our apartment and our living room with a desk and mini filing cabinet.  And while I dream about having an office like this one day, this is my office for now.  🙂

a little OCD…  does anyone else do this or am I the only crazy one???Some credits:
Stationary: Gadabout (displayed in an antique toast holder!)
Monogrammed Mug: Gift from my sweet friend, Christie Bienemann, from Anthropology
Desk: Pottery Barn
Cow Hide Rug: Wedding gift from Eric Chamberlin – purchased in Argentina!

Things I still want to do in here:
1) Since this is connected to the living room, I would love to paint the entire room a pale gray to give it a little more character / definition.
2) Originally I thought I would make the space above the desk a little gallery-wall of sorts but since the space is generally so small I have tended towards less-is-more.  Sometimes I think it looks too plain but I think that painting the walls might be just what it needs…

*** Any Ideas or Suggestions are Welcome! ***

Apartment Tour: Living Room

In response to requests from my girlfriends (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love checking out other people’s places), I’ll be posting pictures from our apartment to give you a mini apartment-tour!

I am not super creative and most of what we have is a combination of what we had individually before we got married & stuff we bought immediately into our marriage – since which time my tastes have significantly changed.  Also, there are a lot of weird things about apartments in Brazil, so…not the easiest canvas either.  That being said, we have more than we need or could ask for and are thankful for all of it.  🙂

First up on the tour is the Living Room:
Some credits: 
Pillows: Layla Grace (multi-colored) and Furbish Studio
SF Print: Ikea
Couch: Pottery Barn
Gray Side Chairs: Home Goods
Brazilian Cowhide Rug: purchased in Columbia, South Carolina 🙂
Chunky Knit Throw Blanket: Made by my Aunt Sheryl!

Things I still want to do in here:
1) I would love to paint the room a pale gray to give it a little more character / definition.
2) I am in debate about putting up drapes.  I usually love them but the space is so small I’m not sure if it would crowd it too much…?  If I did anything I think they would need to be light / sheer.
3) The floor lamp…should I paint it??  I’m not a fan but am trying not to buy much home stuff until we move into an actual HOME one day, at which point I’ll want to get a lot.  🙂
4) If you are wondering about the “coffee table,” it’s an Ikea coffee table and side table pushed together.  We bought them right after getting married as a temporary solution until we found something we loved, but never found the right thing and kind of forgot about it…

*** Any Ideas or Suggestions are Welcome! ***