Throwing Some Green At the Bathroom

When I first toured Berrybrier with my realtor back in the beginning of July I was convinced the bathroom just needed a quick coat of paint and some cleaning. What’s a kind way to say that was really freaking idiotic? However you decide to phrase it, I was stupid and the bathroom needs to be gutted. Doesn’t everyone love an unanticipated multi-thousand dollar side project? Oh joy!

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But let’s be real, this bathroom is BAD. It’s gross and there is a rot problem as things are not properly water proofed. Now I was hoping this was just dirty. It’s not. Enjoy this blurry picture of the wood tub surround. Doesn’t that just make you want to take a leisurely bath? Mmmm mmm good!

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The bathroom is right off the kitchen and is the primary bathroom not only for all three bedrooms to bathe in, but also for visitors to use. Storage in this bathroom is a bit questionable. The previous owners added this IKEA cabinet to the corner here, but it overlaps the door trim and is not really the right style. The bathroom vanity cabinet is a beautiful antiqued mirror, but it’s beat up and gross inside. There is an extension cord running from the light fixture to power two little plugs on either side of the mirror, which seams super safe. Not! Oh! And the best part? The little floating vanity covered in the same sheet vinyl as the floor! On the bright side, this bathroom does have a  wired light fixture and switch!

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So as you can see, pretty much every finish in the space needs to be changed, but more importantly, the layout needs to be changed. See the toilet? To get to that you have to turn sideways and scootch past 12″ of space between the sink and tub. It’s great! The tub – while exceedingly comfortable – is way too big for the small room. The bathroom is only 54″ wide and about 8 feet long. It was actually elongated by about 12″ in order to fit that tub in at some point. Which is why you see the soffit in the first picture above the mirror. The tub is so large you can basically take a poop while showering things are so crammed together!

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So, everything needs to be changed. Let’s start with the layout. The soffit is like that because when they moved the wall, they just cut off the wall. Which doesn’t really work structurally. The wall needs to be reframed at it’s original location reducing the depth of the bathroom by about one foot, but the half bath on the other side will get just a bit wider. The bathing part needs to be rotated 90° and put against the back wall. Because the bathroom is only about 54″ wide, a tub won’t really fit, so I will be putting in a 48″wide shower. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to steal a little bit of the extra room besides the shower for little cubbies to hold rolled towels. The sink and the toilet will be relocated on the same wall as the sink closer to the entry to the room. That will provide a nice circulation path along the exterior wall with the window. I’ll add wood shelves above the toilet for additional storage. Can you envision that? Here, let me help. Excuse the dimensions, I had to get it all on plan to show my plumber.

New Bathroom Layout | Land of Laurel

Now that I’m committed to moving forward, I’ve decided to dive in head and heart. Which means I’m now really excited! What’s a designer’s dream? Getting to do everything they want without any one holding them back. Now, I can’t go crazy, since I do not have unlimited funds. My funds are incredibly limited, but I can use these limited funds to have some fun. I wanted the bathroom to be classic, yet dynamic. In character with the early 1900s house, yet with modern conveniences and style.

If you know me, you know I love green. It’s classic, yet very in right now. Green is a wonderful color that speaks to the nature of the lush surroundings of the Pacific Northwest. My bedding is green and floral, I often wear green, and I’m pretty much planning on painting everything in this house green. So prepare yourselves! Dark green looks amazing with gold and we all know that’s one of my favorite materials too. What can I say? I’m predictable.  Plus, you know I’m going to try to create another bathroom jungle, right?

I was very inspired by Dana’s bathroom and loved the 2″ black hex floor tile. I spent a lot of time thinking that’s what I should do at Berrybrier with black grout that would hide grime. But, my dear cousin Mary very kindly pointed out that black shows soap scum and dirt easily. I started to rethink this plan, though I still think it looks amazing.

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I still wanted to do a hex mosaic though since it’s classic and looks amazing! I found inspiration everywhere I went, like random apartment stoops.

Hex Inspo | Land of Laurel

And then I thought, well, I’m a designer, I should do something ultra designer-y, like this:

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or this:

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Or this:

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Then I realized I have to get this bathroom done before 2020 and I really don’t have a lot of time to wait for custom colored tile nor the time to hand-lay a complicated pattern. So I did some soul searching and decided to go more classic. I found this at Home Depot and placed my order. Simple, classic, black and white daisy.

For the bath fixtures, a coworker let me know we get a lip smacking good designer deal from Delta. I picked out their Cassidy collection for a vintage inspired, modern look in their Champagne Bronze finish (which is gold). A modern white toilet and pedestal sink will be a nice change from the pink throne too! Dark green walls in Benjamin Moore’s 1498 Forest Floor will add drama. Vintage picture frames and dark stained shelves with black brackets will look classic. Pretty soon, my design palette came together and I was ready to go!

Demo starts this weekend and the electrician and plumber come next week! I’ll be showering at my cousin Kristen’s next week. Thank god for local family! The only sad part of the renovation is the bathroom walls will no longer match my toothpaste! 😂

Have you ever renovated a bathroom by yourself? Am I crazy to hope to get it completed in just a couple of weeks?! Wish me luuuck! I will need it!

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Let there be light!

Happy autumn, ya’ll! The recent turning of weather is making me nauseous as I try to figure out how to schedule the exterior painting of my house and finishing up the dormer. So much to do! So little time! Seriously, I’m not ready for winter! I’m still hoping to break out those breezy summer dresses and dig up bricks to lay out a patio in my backyard. BUT, reality sinks in and I realize a lot will need to wait until next spring. The exterior paint, however, needs to get a move on!

While I’m waiting on things the professionals have to take on, I have to keep busy myself. I’ve been working trying to refinish my kitchen floors which is taking about 53 times longer than I anticipated. So this past weekend I looked for a new project. Something quick and dirty I could knock out and actually finish. I turned again to the back of the house but didn’t make it quite so far as the yard.

That horrific deck and the roof covering it? It was coming down! Remember how bad it was? It was a deathtrap waiting to happen! Those stairs ended 4″ from the corner of the garage. Now, luckily, the actual deck roof (can we even classify that monstrosity as a roof?) had come down during the first two weeks I owned Berrybrier. It was a wonderful surprise when I came home from work to see my cousins, John and Carla, and my parents, John and Kate happy in the backyard having spend a couple hours that afternoon demoing the deck roof. They’d knocked it out and boy was it a huge change! It not only looked a thousand times better, but the amount of light that suddenly flooded the kitchen was the best part!


Yes that is a new-to-me stove as well (bought it from the neighbors who are also renovating!). Before the kitchen was so dark since the two windows were under the makeshift roof! Plus that wallpaper doesn’t help. Good thing that’s gone now too! (Add re-drywalling the kitchen to my to-do list as well…)


So when this past weekend came around, I said to my mother, “You know what would be super fun? Taking down the deck!” My mother had her doubts, she was nervous we wouldn’t like what we found. But I had a good feeling about this one. The home inspection report had called out the presence of concrete steps under the deck and a few sessions with a good flashlight and a long stick had given me the impression the steps were in good shape. Plus anything would be better than this, right?

I even convinced my mother a few weeks earlier to sawzall off a board on one side to get better access to the steps in order to take a closer look and sweep a bit with a broom. This proved the steps were in great shape to me, but my mother still had her doubts. I finally convinced her I could just pull off one board from the top and we could get a good look at things there.

Once you pull off one, what’s the harm in another? Or so I convinced my mother… and slowly, but surely we got all the deck boards pried off that first day. Now it would have been a lot easier if we could have used  power tools like a sawzall, but the roofers were over and the electrical on this house isn’t a fan of power tools, let alone multiple power tools. So we worked by hand using hammers and crowbars. (And luckily the electrical is getting updated at the end of the month!) Slowly, but surely, we made progress!

Whew! Easier said than done. The work wasn’t that hard, but between the roofers air compressor and staple/nail guns and the sounds of our own hammers hitting the metal of the crowbars I got a powerful headache and my ears wouldn’t stop ringing. We took a break and I picked up some protective ear muffs at Ace Hardware before heading home. Hallelujah! They are my new favorite protective gear, even beating out hazmat suits!

Boy was it looking a million times better that first day and boy did we learn a lot! That deck, as it turns out, was not in as good of shape as I thought. Sitting on the concrete steps, moisture had filled the wood and when we pressed into it, water would actually squeeze out. It had caused the wood to rot significantly more than I anticipated. Beneath the steps, years of walking over and dust and debris had created mounds of compost that covered the concrete. Actual, really nice compost. We tossed it straight into the garden!

The next morning, my mom broke out her favorite tool: the sawzall and took off the sides of the deck. A few quick bangs with a sledgehammer and everything else was loose. Then it saw just back to the crowbar to remove a few pieces off the house and there they were: the original concrete steps!

The cute star gate used to be in function here, blocking off the backyard from the driveway. You can see the hole in the concrete next to it where the fence post used to be. I am in love with how much better this looks! The kitchen is flooded with light and now you can actually walk between the garage and the house! The best thing though? Not being directed down the stairs and into the corner of the garage! Now the flow from the house is so much more open! It allows you to walk into the garden easily and walk into the house from any side. Truly, it’s a small change, but feels transformative! I mean, the house still looks like crap since it needs paint, but it’s still a big change!

Before this view was crazy! Now it at least makes more sense. A good coat of paint will be the true life saver though.

Plus, the whole project took less than 8 hours. So thank god for that! I need more projects like that and less like my endless kitchen floor rescucitation project. This project leaves me satisfied and happy! Now they stairs will definitely need some tweaking – I’m thinking of painting next spring and trying to skim coat the top stair that’s in a bit rougher shape.

But for now, hopefully the weather will hold out long enough for this house to get painted and then I can stick my red pots on these steps and then they’ll really be popping! It’s one baby step in the right direction!

Winter is Coming

Oh my goodnesss! My brain is doing cartwheels, you guys. There is SO MUCH to do and SO MANY things to plan. It’s hectic and insane and oh so much fun. So what’s going on at the moment? Just a few things:

  • A new roof is going on and so is a dormer!
  • The exterior of the house is being prepped for painting.
  • We’re redoing the kitchen floors… slowly, but surely!
  • I’m designing the bathroom and getting ready for demo.
  • The garden is being worked on, weeded, and seeded with clover!
  • Electricians are scheduled and I’m selecting new light fixtures where needed.

Whew! I’m exhausted just recounting this. Each of these things has taken a whole bunch of time and planning, thinking and rethinking. I’m just a tad stressed and just a tad tired and just a tad sore, but most importantly I’m happy. The major stress lately, however, has been getting the exterior of the house in shape as soon as I can. Because winter is coming. And although Portland winters are not nearly as bad or as long as those in Westeros, you may have heard the rumor that it rains here.

Well, the rumors are true my friends, it rains here in Portland! Which means the roof issue needed to be addressed first. I spent weeks thinking up a plan and drawing up construction documents in CAD. Luckily the City of Portland has a Homeowner’s Permit Night where you can bring drawings to review with their structural engineers for tips and information as well as get permits during non-business hours. I spent two consecutive Thursdays in those offices the first talking with a structural engineer about how to best support the dormer and the second evening actually getting the permit. In between those two Thursdays I spent many, many hours working in CAD to get my drawings ready for approval. It was a huge relief when they passed and I was able to get my permit! The most frustrating part of the process was the long hours on the computer when I really wanted to be at Berrybrier sledge hammering something.

After my drawings were done and the permit procured, I had to select a roof color so the roofers could begin, but how to select a color for the roof without selecting a color for the house? Well, let’s go back to the pictures of Berrybrier. It’s a bit difficult to see in pictures, but the windows of the house are dark green. On the plus side, a previous owner updated all the windows to double-paned, vinyl-exterior, wood-interior windows which is *almost* what I would have selected myself. If it was me, I’d have selected wood interior and exterior windows. But, alas, what’s done is done and I don’t have to do it! The decision for dark green, vinyl-exterior windows though is a pretty permanent one. As these windows can not be painted, I had to pick a paint color for the siding that would coordinate with dark green.

Berrybrier Before | Land of Laurel

What goes well with dark green windows? White? Hmm… an all white home with green windows would be classic. White siding paired with white trim is also very popular right now. I found this inspiration photo which shows a house with white trim and siding, the windows are dark brown here, but you can easily imagine them as green. You can barely see the roof here, but it looks to be a dark charcoal.

White house and Trim | Land of Laurel

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As classic and lovely as this is, it is very popular. Would I recommend it to a client? Absolutely. But, for myself, I wanted something a bit more exciting. I wanted something happy. A house that makes you smile just walking by it. What is colorful and happy that goes well with green? Coral! And coral is another name for salmon and salmonberries are delicious and the house is already called Berrybrier, so really, could there be anything more perfect? (Did you see how my brain works there?) So! A salmonberry colored house it was. Luckily, I had the perfect inspiration in mind.

Young House Love, my favorite blog, bought a beach house last year and they painted it coral! Their house is too cute and much more charming than Berrybrier, so it’s the perfect inspiration. Their home is in the final stages of a complete renovation (which is incredibly exciting to follow) and it’s just too cute!

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Luckily, they documented their careful color selection process and I followed their journey from paint swatch to paint swatch. They landed on Sherwin Williams 6324 Mellow Coral. I was determined to take this into consideration, but select something different. I pulled a ton of samples from work. At first I thought I’d go much darker, but eventually I came around.

Coral Colors | Land of Laurel

Bold colors tend to look even brighter on larger surfaces, so it’s important to select ones that go much more grey than you’d originally think. I ended up landing on Sherwin Williams 6611 Jovial. I picked up a color test pot at Lowe’s and popped some swatches on the house. Instantly it was bright, happy, and colorful!

Jovial | Land of Laurel

It looked good by the door, bright and happy. It’s always shady here and since this is the main way you get into the house, it’s an important view. Of course, it would look even better if the trim wasn’t filthy dirty!

SW 6611 Jovial | Land of Laurel

Still, I wasn’t sure. What if it was just a tad too bright? I brought in a back up swatch: Young House Love’s Sherwin Williams 6324 Mellow Coral. You can see below it’s just a little duller and a little more grey/brown in tone.

Paint Swatches | Land of Laurel

So although I had a color selected, I did not have the exact color finalized. I’m still debating endlessly. Mellow Coral is safer, it will clearly look bold on the home. Young House Love’s beach house is happy and absolutely colorful. Jovial is happy, just subtly different from Mellow Coral, and just a tad brighter. But is it too bright? What do you think? Which do you prefer? Which would you choose?

Luckily, although I’m stumped on the color for the siding, the color selection for the trim is easy: SW 7012 Creamy. It’s a happy white with a warmer undertone which will brighten nicely against Portland’s often cool grey skies.

And the roof? Also a quick decision! I’m going with a 40 year roof by Owens Corning in the Sierra Grey colorway.

Sierra Grey | Land of Laurel

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This is a nice light grey shingle with plenty of color variation. As Berrybrier has no air conditioning (and as someone who’s never lived in a house with air conditioning I have no plans to add it) I wanted something lighter that would reflect more heat in the summer. Dark colors absorb heat. It’s a basic scientific fact that almost everyone knows. So although dark roofs look fantastic and are extremely popular, I knew it wouldn’t be for me. Something light, bright, with significantly less heat retention would be most important. This picture also from Owen’s Corning shows a look similar to what I’m hoping for with the Sierra Grey. It’s light, but it’s not white and it has plenty of color variation. Decision made!

Sierra Grey | Land of Laurel

Now if only I could be one hundred percent sure about the siding color! Help! What would you pick? Random strangers walking by my house are being accosted for their opinions on paint color and I need yours too!

Paint Swatches | Land of Laurel

Brighter or more subdued?