Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amazing Master Bath Transformation: From Ugly to Slightly Less Ugly

{Project 365 - Day 128}

I do not like to complain about my house, as it seems extremely ungrateful when in fact we are blessed to (1) have a house, (2) have a house that we love, and (3) have a house that is the perfect house for raising our family. And I know this, and feel grateful for it every day. But this is a blog about the good, the bad and the ugly, and the truth is that our master bathroom falls squarely in the "ugly" category. It's ugly, but I'm still happy to have it (much like my feet). We found this house when I was 6 months pregnant with Caroline, and we'd been looking for a house for at least 6 months at the time. When we saw it, we knew pretty quickly it was The One, even though it was a hot mess. The neighborhood, the space, the floor plan all pretty much lined up with what we were looking for, and the house actually came with a yard -- not a great yard, but for this area, it had a decent amount of usable play space. I knew the house needed {a lot} of work, but I said to David: "I think this is it." And he said: "But have you seen the master bathroom?"


The master bathroom looks like it was the result of a contest wherein architects were asked to come up with a design that would make a large space live small. The space is totally chopped up by (1) two (small) closets that are only accessible by entering the bathroom; (2) a linen closet that juts into the middle of the room; (3) two separate vanities on opposite sides of the room; (4) a separate room that contains the commode, a ginormous 80s style whirlpool tub (paaaaarty!), and (5) a shower that is actually pretty big, but seems like a scary shower cave because it has a tiny door and then huge walls of tile. In addition to the crazy layout, the bathroom has tired finishes all the way around. Cosmetic updates alone cannot save this bathroom; only men with sledgehammers can. But it will be several years before we can redo the bathroom, so I had just resigned myself to the fugliness and really just stopped looking at it.

But then one day I realized that with a couple of small improvements, the bathroom would be a far more pleasant place to be in until we could do a complete renovation. But since our ultimate plan is to gut the room and start over, the cost of any intermediate improvements would have to stay in the low two-digits. First, the paint color. We painted the bathroom before we moved in, and I chose Benjamin Moore's popular Wedgewood Gray, a soothing spa blue color. I had seen it in the Pottery Barn catalog and thought it would be perfect. But I never liked the color in our bathroom. I think in fresh, new bathrooms the cool tones of Wedgewood Gray add a character and patina that keeps the bathroom from looking too stark or new, but in an older, dingier bathroom like mine, it just made it look dirty. So I decided to paint over it with the same green color we used in our sunroom. Paint I already own plus painting supplies I already own = free. I taped up the room one night, and the next day my super awesome dad came and painted the bathroom (thanks Dad!!). Dad painting the bathroom = free.

The next major cosmetic problem in the bathroom was around the edges of the plate glass mirrors. It's hard to explain it, but it started to do the mirror equivalent of fraying around the edges. It was discolored and kind of craggy (is that a word?) along the edges. See, look at the bottom of David's mirror:

And then one day I started looking around the internet and learned about a technique for framing out plate glass mirrors using MDF trim. These posts made it look easy. Buy the trim at Lowe's. Have them cut it to size in the store. Paint. Stick to the mirror with Liquid Nails. I decided to give it a try.

I went to Lowe's and bought two 16 foot pieces of this baseboard trim to frame out the mirrors:

I also bought an $8 miter box and saw because Lowe's would not do miter cuts, and we decided that doing those on site would probably be more accurate anyway. I also bought some Liquid Nails and caulk. All told, I spent about $40 in supplies to do the two mirrors. I then spent a few days painting the trim. You need to paint both sides, because some reflection will show from the underside of the frame. I only had oil-based white paint, which took forever to dry, so the whole thing took awhile.

My dad and I spent an afternoon measuring, cutting and sticking the trim pieces to the mirror to create frames.

My sink, after:

I think the frame around the mirror makes a HUGE difference (so does closing the drawer and wiping up the toothpaste, but hey, gotta stage the "before" shots so the "after" is more dramatic, right?)

David's mirror, post-framing;

As you can see, the bathroom still makes zero sense:

And someday, we'd love to start over with a less dizzying layout, but these simple cosmetic changes have really freshened and brightened the bathroom in the meantime.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer vacation!

{Project 365 - Day 127}

It's the last day of school for the big kids. We always remember to take the requisite "first day of school" shots, but this time we actually remembered to get a "last day of school" shot as well:

This is not only the last day of third grade for Jacob, but his last day in this {amazing} school; he'll move to a different school for 4th and 5th grade. I know there will be genuine tears this afternoon, and he was already practicing this morning with these {fake} tears:

Yes, it will be a bittersweet day for all of us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby girl

{Project 365 - Day 126}

Hmmm, maybe not such a baby anymore!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mmmmmm . . . bacon . . .

{Project 365 - Day 125}

It would be nice if after a four day hiatus I came back with something great, but instead, here is a picture of a freezer full of pork products. David and I just bought a quarter of a pig. We did it after a friend who had been buying meat this way raved about the whole deal as a way of getting a great value on quality, locally raised meat. The farmer told me that the pigs roam free the way pigs are supposed to, feed on a healthy, hormone free pig diet, etc. (he also told me which of the pigs I was selecting from were siblings, which is really more than I needed to know). Anyway, we've had some bacon and some pork chops so far and gave a big thumbs up to both. We're buying 1/8th of a cow next month -- I'm hoping I can buy it for one magic bean -- hahaha. In any case, we bought a deep freezer to house all of this bulk meat. That is a whole lot of excitement for one month!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Caroline's trip to the farm

{Project 365 - Day 124}

Caroline's preschool class went to the farm this morning. I could not get a picture of Caroline because she was sitting on my hip, clinging to me for dear life, fearful of the (not remotely shy) goats. So I took this one-handed picture of a horse instead.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

little elephant dress (and I do mean little)

{Project 365 - Day 123}

The sole purpose of posting this random OOF (out of focus) shot of Caroline is to show off the insanely cute elephant dress that she wore to the zoo the other night when David's firm hosted an event there. We have had a lot of cute dresses around here over the years, but the elephants with the angel sleeves and the big ric rac around the bottom definitely cracks my personal top three. Sadly, even though the dress is a size 4 and Caroline is just 3, it's already a little short on her:

so if I want her to wear this through the summer (and oh, do I ever!) I am going to have to find some little bloomers or bike shorts or something to reduce the likelihood of accidental flashing while leaning over to talk to the giraffes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

and next weekend, to the symphony!

{Project 365 - Day 122}

Not really; I'm just so smitten with my boy in his coat and tie that I'm trying to think up more tie-wearing occasions for him (his personal nightmare). Today Jacob made his First Communion. He could not wait to get out of these clothes, but he was a trooper during the (several) hours he had to wear this.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quick change

{Project 365 - Day 121}

Just think, not 30 minutes before he was wearing a Clone Wars t-shirt and lacrosse shorts.

Jacob makes his First Communion on Sunday and had "official" pictures taken after school yesterday. I snapped this unofficial picture on the way out. I think it's the first time he's ever worn a tie. His mama thinks he looks handsome (and big!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Down to the river

{Project 365 - Day 120}

Jacob and some of his classmates took a field trip to the Cahaba River after school. They studied the plant and animal life on the river, and got seriously wet.

Left hand on red! (at least, I think it's the left hand)

{Project 365 - Day 119}

Friendly afternoon game of Twister.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ballerina Girl

{Project 365 - Day 118}

Elizabeth had her dance recital on Saturday. She says she does not want to take ballet next year (she wants to take gymnastics), so this may be the last time we see her so pink and tutu-ed (but Caroline is waiting in the wings to fill in any ballet void that exists after Elizabeth's resignation; she nearly ripped this costume off Elizabeth once the recital was over).

Monday, May 9, 2011

That will be 30 - 40 minutes

{Project 365 - Day 117}

We went to a popular new restaurant for Mother's Day yesterday and had to wait for a table. We left David waiting while my parents and I took the kids to a playground down the street. Definitely more fun (and less whiney!) than standing around outside the restaurant!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!

{Project 365 - Day 116}

I am one lucky mommy {and a lucky daughter}, and I definitely spent a lot of time today counting my blessings.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Daisy Scouts at work

{Project 365 - Day 115}

Elizabeth and I worked at the Scouts for Schools Drive, which is a joint effort of the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to collect school supplies for the school in Hackleburg, AL which was destroyed in the tornadoes. This is a K-12 school with approximately 900 students. The Scout leader in charge of the project was telling me that he asked the principal to send him a list of supplies that were needed, and the principal's response was "we literally have nothing left. Everything that you have in your schools, we need." That is pretty overwhelming to think about. One of the only buildings left standing in Hackleburg is a church, and that is were classes will be held for the rest of the school year. The logistics of getting supplies to the school are challenging in ways I didn't initially think about; for example, everything needs to be in a covered plastic storage bins because (1) there is really nowhere to store these bins when arrive, and (2) the items need to be protected from dust and debris.

In any case, it was very heartening to see the community response to this project. We were busy the whole time we were there, with the Boy Scouts emptying out huge boxes of school supplies from the cars, and the Daisies helping to sort the items by category. Of course, they are six year old girls, so they had to take a break or two in there to play some hand games.

Tire Swinging

{Project 365 - Day 114}

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Tributes

{Project 365, Day 113}

My Mom is spishel (special). I love her because she lets me get some cokies (cookies) when she said "no anything."

It's almost Mother's Day, and the kids have been bringing home the sweetest gifts and cards that they made for me in school. I learned long ago that the School Created Mother's Day Greeting presents a prime opportunity for your child to rat you out for all of your parenting weaknesses. Here, we see Elizabeth masterfully pointing out both my over-permissiveness ("she lets me get some cokies") and my draconian rule (she said "no anything.")

(This actually happened in the past couple of weeks when we were in the basement during a storm warning (who can remember which one?) -- the kids said they were staaaaarving, and I said that they couldn't go upstairs to get a snack because we were in the middle of a tornado warning ("no anything"). Somewhere in the middle of that, I apparently ran upstairs and grabbed some cookies.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Still standing

I realize that all of the photos I've taken over the past week have been storm-related -- downed trees, broken fences, piles of tree debris, etc. I figured that I'd at least have one or two goofy shots of the kids mixed in there, but nope. Just trees. In keeping with that theme, here are some of the really freaking tall trees still standing in my backyard (for now):