Category Archives: Renovation

{Guest Bathroom} High Impact, Low Budget Makeover

The bathrooms were/are definitely the most dated rooms in our new house. We’re talking old-school oak medicine cabinets, bad light fixtures, mismatched hardware, 1980’s tiled floors, and a really bad countertop. Luckily the expensive parts have been updated (bathtubs, toilets, pedestal sinks), so the updates are mostly cosmetic, except for the bad countertop in the master bathroom. There were lots of projects I wanted to tackle when we moved in this fall, but because I was traveling so much for work, I had to stick to quick and easy projects. The very first project I did in the whole house was a quick makeover of the guest bathroom. 


Did you know it’s really, really hard to take a photo of a small bathroom and have it turn out like all the fancy design bloggers’ photos turnout? Well, it is. This is why I haven’t posted this update yet. But, it’s time. I’m going to give small-bathroom photography my best shot and hope you’ll appreciate the before and afters despite my mediocre skills. 

I had LOVE LOVE LOVED Cassie’s bathroom makeover and I was so bummed for her and the bathroom that she moved out as soon as she finished it. I don’t thinks she’s that bummed, just as an FYI. I loved the white shiplap (is that shiplap? I think it’s shiplap! Where’s Joanna Gaines??) contrasted against the beautiful dark walls. How stunning is this bathroom?


It wasn’t until I was standing in the doorway of our new-to-us bathroom, that I realized that I had the bones already in place to riff on Cassie’s design. After some nightmare wallpaper removal experiences, I wasn’t ready to commit to wallpaper (even though that paper makes my heart sing), but I figured I could go dark with the paint, update the mirror and lighting, and have a quick makeover that would be high impact. 


On one of my few weekends home last fall, I picked out the paint (I was looking for a dark, purple-y blackish smokey grey – you totally know what I’m talking about right?), scrubbed the walls down, took down the awful vanity and light fixture, and got to work.


Two things:
1. Can we talk about the absurdity of the light fixture/medicine cabinet combo? The cabinet totally blocked all light coming from the lights. Seriously people. Plan ahead.
2. I found a giant hole in the wall. I know we’re covering it with a mirror, but hey previous owners! Take care of my walls!


Ok, back to it. I was painting the bathroom before we’d barely started unpacking. As we discussed, I’m adverse to unpacking. I’m confident that TimTheFarmer was not thrilled with the fact that projects were starting while boxes lingered in every room. #sorryhoney #itshowiroll But, the painting was done by the end of the weekend, I’d managed to bake a 4th place winning apple pie (that’s winning, right?) while I was painting, and I LOVED the contrast against the (fake) tile walls. I’d never painted a ceiling before, but Cassie showed me the way and I think it really made a huge difference. Once I painted, I realized the tile walls and toilet and tub and sink weren’t white, which I’d originally thought they were, they were almond. I hate almond (to be clear, I don’t hate almonds, just almond finishes). Because my “tiles” weren’t white, the white ceiling would have been an even worse idea. 


I decided to go with a simple glass mirror instead of a medicine cabinet for two reasons. First, it’s much less expensive. Second, it actually opens up the small space in that bathroom by not taking up 4-6 inches of vanity depth with a medicine cabinet. Someday I might add a flea market frame to it, but for now, I like the simplicity.


This was also the point where I made a hardware commitment for the house. I’ve typically gravitated toward various shades of silver/chrome for hardware finishes, but this house was calling for oil-rubbed bronze (i.e. blackish). The hardware on the kitchen cabinets was black, so that’s the direction went. We picked out this light fixture from Lowes and went with the square glass shades when we picked up the mirror. Since then, we’ve replaced all the doorknobs with oil-rubbed bronze knobs and they really play well off the grey walls and warmth of the wood doors. 


Finally, I painted the trim around the window and door white (six coats later…ugh!), added a towel ring that was already here and rounded up some art.


Here’s a before, during, and after:

IMG_3366 IMG_3373 IMG_5049

What are your thoughts on painting a ceiling a bold color?

Red Letter Day

First, a big welcome to the Our Fifth House readers who are stopping by today! Second, a huge thank you to Carmel for taking on my design challenge!

For all my people, let me clue you in. Guys!! Today is one of those “firsts” as a new blogger I am super excited about. I’ve followed Carmel at Our Fifth House for years and her posts about home design projects are part of what inspired me to start a blog (and write my moving tips). She recently started a new series where she answers design dilemma questions and I sent over my post on if, and where, I should put pendant lights in our kitchen. Aannnddd….today she answer my question! Head over to her blog here to see what she says.

This is a fun blogger milestone and I am super grateful for Carmel taking some time to think about my design issues and pulling some great pendant options for our kitchen. And, here’s a sneak peak of a fun project I did this weekend – stop back tomorrow to see where this is in our house and the larger project it’s a part of!


{Kitchen Update} Help! Pendant Lights or Can Lights?

Welcome to the Our Fifth House readers who are stopping by today! I would love to hear if you have any design suggestions!

Guys. I have to make lighting decisions for our kitchen and I’m at a standstill. This feels like one of those big grown up decisions (you know, at the same level as signing a mortgage or making school decisions for your kids #not) and I don’t want to get it wrong. I was finally able to get a few pictures of the kitchen in the daylight, so here is  a before and after with the painting progress that’s been made.





There’s definitely room for improvement in my indoor photography skills, but we love the new bright crisp feeling the new paint provides. And yes, the hearts still need to go.


You might recall that I wanted to whitewash the island a kerry green or turquoise. Now, I’m thinking that will be the last decision. I’m not sure what to do with that island.

Ok, so back to the lighting. As I’ve complained about numerous times, there is NO overhead lighting in the kitchen. The only lights right now are an awful fluorescent strip over the sink, the hood vent lights over the stove and a fixture over the kitchen table. It’s unclear to me how people lived here for 30 years without overhead lighting. I took a stab at drawing where a few can lights might ago, a la Joanna Gaines, but you’ll need to use your imagination for my next round of ideas.


After consulting with TimTheFarmer, my electrician FIL, and the internets, here’s what the plan is currently. We’ll install recessed lights throughout the kitchen where we don’t have pendant lights. We’ll replace the circular kitchen table light fixture with 2 -3 pendant lights. We’ll install lighting over the kitchen island. But, there are two question marks:

1. Recessed lighting: we go back and forth about installing symmetrical rows of lights, which makes the minor case of OCD that I have feel better OR installing task lighting in the specific areas that aren’t covered by the table and island lighting. I think I’m leaning towards task lighting. But then…

2. Island lighting: I really like the idea of pendant lights over the island, but I worry about closing in the space in a kitchen/dining room that feels quite open now. I’ve been waffling on this and then my FIL informed me that you can fairly easily convert recessed light sockets to pendant fixtures. Sold! I love the idea of installing can lights and trying out the pendants. If they don’t work, we can just stick to the can lights and if they do, we’re all set.

Buuuuttt…this then messes with the rows of recessed lighting. Should the two island can lights line up with other lights or do they just do their own thang? Ughh. Grown-up decisions. 


The other thing that effects the lighting plan, is the removal of the wall between the kitchen and living room. Originally I’d planned to pull the whole thing down, but after living in the space for a few months AND being gifted this awesome long farm table, we’ve decided to keep at least some of the wall. I think the current plan is to pull the wall out to the light switch to bring in some light from the living room and open the space up a bit more, but still keep a dining nook. I expect the removal of that part of the wall will inform our can light placement and pendant/no pendant island lighting plans. 

So, the next step is to get that wall pulled down and then we’ll finalize the light plans. In the meantime, I’ve been perusing Houzz and Pinterest and Lighting Direct for ideas for fixtures. I seem to be drawn to the farmhouse-industrial lights. I’m leaning towards something in this family for the kitchen table.


And here are some islands with pendant lights that I love.

IslandInspiration  IslandInspiratio4 IslandInspiratio3  
IslandInspiratio2Source | Source | Source | Source

How gorgeous is this kitchen, by the way??

And, I particularly like how in that last photo, you barely notice the pendants.


As I was digging through Houzz, I discovered the above photo with these awesome corrugated tin pendant lights. Luckily the image lists the source materials and … wait for it …. the lights are from a company called Hudson Valley Lighting!! Coincidence?? I think not. I started digging though their site and found lots of great options. I’m a bit nervous to find out the price, but for now, I’ll use this as inspiration:


I’m liking the first three options for the island and kicking around the others for the table.

Do you have tips for can light placement? Or have any pendant light preferences? I’d love your input!