Boy, oh boy, has this post been long overdue. I’ve been itching to share final reveal shots of the the main bathroom at Berrybrier. If you follow me on instagram (see the sidebar! Or the very bottom of the page if you’re on your phone) you may have seen my instastories a few weeks ago which heavily featured finishing off the bathroom. There were a few little tasks like hanging the hand towel ring, spray painting the toilet paper stand, and making the shower curtain that I needed motivation to work on. So thanks to all those who messaged me for the encouragement! Now… shall we check out some shots of the room?Continue reading “Finally, Finally, Finally the Main Bathroom Reveal!”
One Room Challenge: Week One – Master Powder Before Pictures and Inspiration
First off, hello to all of you new to this blog! I’m so excited to be guest posting as part of the One Room Challenge this Spring 2019. I’m Laurel and I’ve been working on my house — which I named Berrybrier after the brambles of blackberries and raspberries in the backyard — since I bought it in Summer 2017. It’s been a huge project full of ups and downs and I’ve been living here throughout it! I painted the house a happy, salmonberry, coral pink color and finished a DIY gut reno on the Main Bathroom all by myself. I am currently working on the Kitchen as well as the other main spaces! Click around and check out the progress while you’re here!Continue reading “One Room Challenge: Week One – Master Powder Before Pictures and Inspiration”
Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet
I grew up in the same house almost my entire life. It’s the only house I ever remember living in. My parents bought it when I was one and a half and they still live in that house today. I had a bedroom in the center of the house with no outside windows except for a skylight, which sounds a lot drearier than it was in reality. My room was always light and bright and I never had to close the curtains to change. My room was right next to the bathroom which had been redone in the 1950s. It was all green and black tile with floral wallpaper and an old sink. There was even some neon orange accent tile that some previous owner then painted black, but by the time I was in middle school the black paint was chipping in a few places exposing the orange. There was this great vintage mirrored medicine cabinet in that bathroom. It may have been original to the house. It had a lovely arched top and two hinged, adjustable wings which was just perfect for checking out your hair before the middle school dance. I loved that medicine cabinet! It was so great for looking at your hair from all the angles, because it had two hinged, mirrored sides.Continue reading “Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet”
Laying 1″ Hex Tile in the Bathroom
I thought walls were a huge step, but, baby, I’m falling head over heels for my tiled floors! The floors were something I’ve just been dying over for months. I found dozens of complicated multi-colored tile floor patterns that I wanted to try, before finally settling back down and going with a clean, classic, and readily available option from Home Depot (my home away from home). I’m still saving those ideas of fun multi-colored patterns for the future though! There’s still the upstairs dormer bathroom and that has got to take shape eventually… so finger’s crossed! My inspiration for this room just got me all kinds of giddy about the tile I’d picked, but seeing it finished is even better!
I bought three cases of the tile at $53 bucks per case. I ended up returning an entire case of the tile in the end and only using the first two cases, or about 18 SF of tile. Saving that extra money was almost as exciting as the tile itself! And I’m allllll about my tile! I picked this tile for the spacing of the flowers. You can get options with more or less space between the flowers, but I preferred this since it had enough that you’d easily see the flowers in the small bathroom, but not enough that you’d feel dizzy! Here’s the shot from the website showing the tile in all it’s ungrouted professional photo glory.
Including the tile, here was my short Home Depot shopping list compiled here for you. That’s it! Tiling isn’t so bad, y’all.
- 2 cases 1″ Hex Flower Patterned Tile at $53/each
- 1 gallon black pre-sealed grout at $60
- 1 grout float at $7
- 1 small v groove float at $4
- 1 pair Tile nippers – I borrowed from my neighbor Erik, but you can get em for $20
- thinset left over from the prep work
Once I gathered the supplies and completed the prep work in the bathroom I came home from work one night in mid-November ready to tile! I finally turned on my ancient furnace which helped keep the house above freezing, which was a refreshing change. After that, I went ahead and dry laid all my tile so I could assess how it would fit in the space. I used this dry lay to also take the tile nippers out and make all my cuts. Luckily with 1″ hex tiles, a quick nip will cut through the tile pretty neatly. Not every one was perfect, but plenty were good enough!
Then it was time to start setting the tile. I carefully picked up my dry laid tile and stacked it sheet by sheet in order of how I’d place the sheets. I made a pile of all my cut tiles I could pull from as needed. Then I popped open my thinset container and used the flat side of a thinset float to spread out a thin coat (about 1/8″) before making grooves with the v side. This is the same process I’d used to lay the HardieBacker during prep. Then I had to actually lay the tile! It all started off smoothly.
First, I spread my thinset about 14″ deep across the back end of the floor by the shower pan, made my grooves, and laid a sheet of tile. Then I back filled any cut tiles and moved on to the next sheet in the row. I did this for the first and second rows without issue. It started to get warmer in the bathroom as the furnace heated the house and as I worked my way across and down the bathroom floors, my thinset started drying at the edges before I could lay the next sheet. Not dry-dry, just drier… I tried working faster and faster, laying the tile as quickly as I could. The room felt hotter and hotter as my efforts increased in speed. By the time I finished I was sweating heavily and the last sheets had a couple spots where the spacing didn’t feel perfect. After tweaking them to make them better, I began to clean up and realized it wasn’t just the little bathroom that was hot. The whole house was oddly warm. I checked the newly installed thermostat: 86°F. Apparently the thermostat went rogue and decided it should feel like a tropical island in November in Portland, OR! So if the tile’s not perfect perfect, I blame the thermostat!
In all, the dry lay and then wet lay of the tile took most of the evening for even just this small room. I was pretty excited to return the next day and finish up with grout! I left the heater on at a more reasonable 70°F temperature to keep the tile and thinset warm enough to set fully overnight. but already things were looking pretty good! I wish I’d taken more pictures of the ungrouted tile, but I’m a terrible blogger and an undivided focus DIYer, so I only took this one overall shot when I finished.
The next evening, grouting I was much better though! I poked any thinset to make sure it was fully set in place (it was!) and double checked the heater was at a more reasonable temperature (it was!), before cracking open my pre-mixed grout. You can get mixable grout for cheaper than the Fusion Pro stuff I used, but I didn’t want to worry about mixing multiple batches or making it the wrong consistency. I figured for my first time grouting, I’d take the easier approach. Also, I’m lazy. Ha! I debated white, grey, and black grout options, but ultimately, picked up a gallon of the charcoal which is the black Fusion Pro option. Black hides the most, I decided, and dingy grout is no one’s friend! I got a little nervous when I opened the container though, because it looked kinda blue! Also shout out to my filthy partially sanded kitchen floors photobombing below.
Once I actually started grouting, the grout looked more black. That was better! Whew!
Grouting was easier than laying the tile, just take the grout float and smoosh grout into the open space between the tiles, smoosh over a few times to make sure the gaps are fully filled. After smooshing, wipe away the excess and you’re left with something that looks a little crazy. You have to let the grout set a minute or two before wiping up the excess though.
But then you just dip a sponge like this in some warm water and ring it out really well and wipe up the excess grout. This sponge helpfully had a more abrasive side I could work at any tough spots with.
As I wiped with the damp sponge, it started looking like a real floor pretty quickly! If any water started to pool, I wiped it up with sponge and rung out the sponge again before making another pass.
After the first wipe down, it looked better, but it definitely needed another go round. By getting the majority in the first pass with a slightly more than damp sponge, I found a damp sponge could get nearly all the rest of the grout haze on the second pass.
That second pass got 95% of the grout haze and all of a sudden the floors looked DONE! It was momentous for sure! I’d not had a proper bathroom in a long while at this time and no bathroom meant I couldn’t actually stay at the house since there was no where to shower! Sure there was still some grout haze on the tile, but I would get that after the grout and tile set fully. It was really looking close to done in here. Walls, tile, who needs paint and toilets anyways?
There was one casualty of the grouting though: my hand. If you’re using dark grout, wear gloves! The grout stained my hand and finger nails and no amount of soap and water could get it off. After a week though it slowly faded away… thankfully!
This felt like a small price to pay for floors that made me want to drool with happiness! I adored the high contrast look and classic feel. The dark grout was practical, but also seemed more contemporary. Overall, this project was a 2 night success! 5 out of 5 stars, would recommend. Significantly easier and less annoying than drywalling. And arguably, way more fun to pet! Because petting tile is a thing right?
The high contrast floors feel so clean and classic don’t they? I just love black and white floors. Gwen’s kitchen floors makes me drool with envy. Black and white can go modern or traditional. Here I think it walks a nice middle line, just like me. This floor also reminds me of my Oma who had black and white hex floors in her Jack and Jill bathroom at her house in Berkeley. Hers was white with black dots only, forcing you to make the flowers with your brain. Something I have many memories of staring at that floor and doing! It’s funny how little things like this can remind you of someone. 20 years later, I’m still staring at hex floors. And loving it!
Have you ever tiled anything before? Did you think it was a difficult or easier DIY project? I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to tile more things soon! If you’re getting ready to tile, better check that thermostat though. Can’t have another one going rogue!
5 Minute Cat Haven
Remember that time I found cherry crates at a fruit stand on the side of 101? And it was pretty much the most exciting thing ever? I took them home and filled them with magazines and placed them under the glass top of the coffee and side tables in my living room. They looked pretty awesome and helped prevent incredibly clumsy people like myself from running into the glass table top so frequently. As they were sitting there I soon realized I wasn’t the only one who loved the crates. Malary could frequently be found sitting in them, on top of the magazines, or stretching out resting her paws on the crates. She seemed to prefer the coffee table crates and occasionally surprised visitors with her presence.
Well, lately, I’ve been trying to purge all the excess crap I have in my life. I took two laundry baskets full of clothes to Goodwill; I organized my bathroom medicine cabinet and under-sink cabinet, tossing the excess products I no longer use; I organized my shoe/jackets closet, got rid of several coats and pairs of shoes; and I went through my magazines tossing everything I no longer wanted (don’t worry, I kept every issue of House Beautiful).
I used four of these cherry crates in my living room. Two under the coffee table and one under each side table. One side table is sitting below the ivy plant in the middle of the photo above. I ended up tossing every single magazine I had in that crate. I have no idea why I’ve held on to so many magazines, I never flip through the non-house/home related ones.
Anyways, I was left with an empty crate! Now… I just love my cat. I know, I know, I’m a cat-lady, but whatever. #catladyandproud I decided that in this little tucked away crate I could make Malary a little spot of her own.
I hopped over to IKEA in Emeryville (holla ten minute drive! #entirereasonImovedhere) intending to buy two small throw pillows or a stand bed pillow to stick into the crate. Well, IKEA doesn’t sell standard pillowcases by themselves from most of their bedding lines. You can get the plain solid color ones, but that seemed too plebeian for my little kitty queen. I looked through the throw pillows and almost sprang for two of the faux sheep skin ones, but then I stumbled upon the red version of this guy, the Annbritt pillow. Apparently this is from the winter collection and they’re no longer shown online. IKEA still had a whole bunch of these sweater pillows in grey, cream, and red. Of course, I had to go for the red. The funky dimensions (approximately 15×30″) made it a perfect fit for the wooden crates. I was a little nervous Malary would be off put by the buttons, but I decided to go for it anyways. And at $13 buckaroos, really, how could I not?
I brought the pillow home and immediately stuck it into the empty crate. I sprinkled it with cat nip to get Malary’s attention right before snapping this picture.
The cat nip worked pretty much instantly, because as soon as I snapped that last picture, Malary was all, “Hmmm, excuse me, what are this?”
After she spent a few minutes exploring the new bed, I stuck it back on the shelf on the side table. She hopped on in and pretty much hasn’t left it since. Although she normally spends most of her mornings napping on the back of the couch by the big windows, the last couple of days I’ve found her curled up down here.
It’s pretty freaking cute, y’all. And I’m not just talking about the cat. This is a pretty attractive cat bed in my opinion. The crate? Vintage and cool, textural with the wood. The pillow? Happy, bright, red, and the sweater texture is just so cozy! By tucking it under the side table, not only is it more isolated and cave-like for Malary, it also doesn’t scream “CAT BED!!” to anyone hanging out in this room. By placing it beneath a glass top, I can also stalk my cat while she’s sleeping. Yes I am a complete creeper, but she’s just so cute!
Ignore the bits of pollen the ivy decided to dump all over the table. Thanks!
Eventually she clued up to my cat-stalking and gave me her pissed off face.
…so I had to stop watching her curled up on her new cat bed. She is the boss after all…
Just kidding! She then started cleaning herself and it was ADORABLE.
I mean, seriously, can you believe this little girl is sixteen years old?! She is still my cute baby girl. Gah!
Okay, okay, enough fan-girling over my cat. I told you I was a #catladyandproud, right? Who else out there is a self admitting cat lady? Made any cat beds lately? Or found one that fit in with your home decor?
After my grandmother passed away in 2014, I was handed down many things. Plants, a wooden stool, suitcases, a sheepskin rug. I love having these little bits and pieces of her scattered around my home, reminding me of her on a daily basis. A few things are still finding their places in my home. Recently, two more found their new purpose!
Among my Oma’s things were many handkerchiefs. Back in the days before waste was normal and tossing 150 pieces of paper in the landfill every time you had a cold became completely acceptable, everyone used handkerchiefs! Now among the everyday handkerchiefs my Oma had several decorative handkerchiefs that were probably never used. Two were rather fun and festive and lucky for me, those are the two that I was given!
I bought some square, white IKEA picture frames and popped the handkerchiefs behind the glass. One of them was actually a little small, so I ended up taping it to a piece of white paper first. Here they are in all their glory!
I decided to hang both of them in my bedroom on the wall parallel to the length of my bed. They both have blue, white, and red hues in their imagery so it ties in with my bedding fairly well.
The handkerchief on the right is pretty great; it’s all about travel! I could totally see something like this in a nursery, but since that’s like ten plus years out, let’s not even go there. For now, we’ll call it “fun” and not “child-like,” mmkay? It’s Bon Voyage theme always makes me smile. My Oma loved to travel. She visited so many places in this world, something I’ve always loved to do as well.
Shall we get a little bit closer? Yes, that is my reflection in the glass of the picture frame. Realizing now, that although the images from the airlines are multi-directional, I’ve hung this handkerchief upside-down if you take a closer look at that plane. Whatever. Let’s call it charming and pretend it’s emulating that scene from Flight, which is my favorite movie to watch before traveling anywhere. The little Bon Voyage marches around all four sides of the handkerchief, but I framed it to just show the one so the sizing would be more similar to that of the other handkerchief (which was significantly smaller).
The other handkerchief is equally, if not more, representative of my Oma. It’s Struwwelpeter! Every German’s favorite stories from her childhood. The book is a collection of cautionary tales for children written in 1845 about the importance of cutting your hair & nails, not playing with matches, not sucking your thumb, etc. In basically every single story the child is either killed or mutilated after not listening to his or her parents. They’re fabulous! I mean, I probably wouldn’t read them to a child, like they were originally intended, but you know, next time you need scary stories to read around a camp fire, this is perfect! You can find the illustrated German version here for an idea of the tales. Or see Dwight Schrute from The Office reference it here as well as the English translation. I love these stories! I know it’s crazy and they’re violent and awful, but I find them some what hilarious and oh so mid-1800s German!
My favorite story, about Harriet who was told not to play with matches, is — unfortunately– not depicted. Regardless, I the handkerchief reminds me of my childhood afternoons reading with my grandmother. Here’s a closer look at the handkerchief.
Now, before I go on, I must note that I do not condone or promote anything from these collection of tales. They were written over 150 years ago. They are violent and occasionally racist. They should not be taken at face value, but rather studied and viewed as stories and imagery of historical interest only. I have a Bachelor’s in German Studies from Tufts University and my studies into German culture lead to my fascination with these tales, as well as my personal family history. They are in no way politically correct.
The two handkerchiefs remind me of my ancestry and my Oma. I love the idea of framing fabric, especially as both handkerchiefs were creased from laying folded in a drawer for years and years. I could have ironed them out, but some how, I felt they added to the story of these handkerchiefs. So up they went in my bedroom. Memories on the wall, reminding me of my past, present, and future.
Have you ever framed a piece of fabric that reminds you of someone? I thought these were just too beautiful to leave in a drawer!
Junk in My Trunk
Oh my god, you guys, I scored something awesome!!! Definitely a #colddeadfingers moment! Mandi would be proud! I scored this beauty at a yard sale in my neighborhood and I am so excited about it!! Take a look:
Now, I am obsessed with trunks — I have been for years and years– so when I saw this, I started wiggling like a happy puppy. Where did I get this gorgeous gentleman? A senior living community. That’s right, a seniors home! I was walking through a lovely little neighborhood in Berkeley when I started to see signs posted to every street post and wall possible. The multitude of them sparked my curiosity and I stopped to read one. “Biggest yard sale ever” it promised; “Bigger and better than last year!” it said. The senior community apparently hosted this huge sale every year! Dang! I thought, I have to check this out!
The following weekend, I drove over to the senior community with high expectations. Whomp, whomp, whomp. Maybe I got there too late, maybe not, I’ll never know, but by the time I got there around 10:00am, there was next to nothing for sale. A few books, some random furnishings, mismatched lamps. It certainly wasn’t huge, it certainly wasn’t a blow out. A wave of disappointment washed over me, but I’d driven over, so I decided to at least check out what was there. I found that beauty under a moving blanket about 10 minutes later. It was not priced, so I ran over to the lovely elderly women at the cash box. They seemed disapproving that I’d interrupted their conversation to inquire, but inquire I did! One of the women was actually the owner so she walked over to the chest with me.
“I paid $15 for this” she said.
“Oh…” I nodded.
“So I’m selling it for $15,” she explained.
“Hmmmm…” I hemmed.
“Well, how much would you pay for it?” she asked finally.
“Maybe ten, no more… yeah, seven?” I asked, hopeful, eyes bright with anticipation.
“I paid $15 for it,” she stated again.
“Well, I’d pay $10 or less,” I reiterated and started to back away, “Oh well…”
“Well what about $15?” she asked again, not getting my unwillingness to pay what she paid.
“I’d pay $10, not $15,” I explained yet again. “Maybe it’s not meant to be…” my voice trailed off dejected and I started to walk away.
“Fine! $10!” The woman called after me. I turned around, smile on my face!
And that, my friends, is how I convinced a poor old woman to sell me her old trunk for $10. Am I horrible? Eeek! She seemed fine with it in the end I swear… Usually I’m a horrible barginer so I was kind of proud of my ability to stick with my number. Plus, I really only wanted to spend $10. Trying not to spend every dime I have on DIY and design. 🙂 (it’s not working…)
I took my new best friend home and wiped him down with a damp sponge. He doesn’t need much to shine!! The trunk isn’t all that heavy, but it’s fairly well made and sturdy. And I love it’s patina! It’s fairly faded and aged, but I kind of adore it’s shabbiness! I’m still playing around with where to put it (or what to put in it!), but at the moment it’s at the foot of my bed (pictures soon I promise!). I might move it to underneath my other window, fill it with art supplies, and stack plants on top of it though… Because MORE plants is always the right answer!!
Seriously, I LOVE this trunk! And what a deal! I see these at flea markets going for anywhere from $60 – $250!! Crazy right? What a score!!! Got anything good lately? I need to keep hitting up yard sales! I’m on the hunt for some new (used) nightstands! I have pretty precise qualifications though.They can’t be more that 24″ wide and they must have a minimum of two drawers. It’s a little tough to find the perfect ones!! Ahh… patience… something so difficult for me… I guess I’ll just stare at this gorgey guy and dream.
Yup. That’s a lot better. Feeling much more zen now!! Just look at the peeling cloth and layers of paint… happiness for design dorks like me! Almost as amazing as petting tile…