Pool House Bathroom Remodel Plans

We’re in the thick of summer and a prolonged heat wave with temps near or above 100 for a few weeks now.  I mention this because the heat and lack of air conditioning in the pool house make for rough working conditions, thus very little progress.  Now more than ever, the prospect of a pool is really appealing and we’re excited to get the space finished.  To keep myself busy (and in the cool climate controlled house), I’ve spent more time researching the exact designs and products for the space.

I’ve always had a rough picture in my mind, but now’s the time to track down every.last.piece that will go into this area.  Planning the half bath is perhaps my favorite part, so let’s get into the design.  I took to Photoshop to translate the vision in my head onto paper, err, screen.

Pool House Bathroom Vanity 2

This is the only half bath we’ve ever had in a house, and it allows a bit more fun, less practical choices than a full bath.  That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard-working.

Pool House Bathroom Vanity Labels

1  As with the rest of the pool house, the plan includes covering the walls in white board and batten for a bright, blank canvas.  2  We’ll also carry the Montauk Black slate into the bathroom for continuity.  3  With the black and white foundation, we need to add a warm wood to the mix, just as we did in our master bathroom.  Unlike the master bath, this half bath doesn’t need much in the form of storage, and a cabinet will surely accumulate junk.  Enter, stage left, the open walnut vanity of my dreams.  The top plank will hide the sink, with a slatted shelf below, perfectly modern, without room for clutter.  4  These Beaker sconces are one part industrial, one part nautical, and fully perfect for this bathroom.  5  Wall faucets are so sleek and simple, I think this is the perfect place to incorporate the Delta Trinsic in chrome, to match the sconces.  6  Clean lined vessel sinks are a go to of mine, but I want to go slightly off course with this semi-recessed vessel option.  7  I adore the collected look of mixed metals, so in addition to chrome, I’ll toss some matte black accessories in there, too.  We’ll need an odd sized mirror in this room, so I have plans to DIY a similar mirror with a slim shelf to store a small jar of cotton swabs and a lotion pump, both items I need after swimming.  8  Bringing in another black accessory to tie in with the mirror, this Trinsic towel ring is elegant and simple.  9  Cute Turkish hand towels will add a bit of pattern and color.  10  For a luxe touch, I’ll add  a beautifully scented Izola soap in a gorgeous and reusable glass dispenser.  Of course I have to add a little bit of green.  11  We’ll corral toilet paper in a cute basket, perhaps this wicker option or this black wire one. On the other side of the vanity shelf, we’ll stack extra towels.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m leaning toward a white painted drywall ceiling for simplicity.


The other thing I’m undecided on is whether to add a marble back splash or not.  It’s a look I love, and it certainly would be more durable.  What’s your vote-back splash or without?

Over on the toilet side, things are much simpler.

Pool House Bathroom Toilet Side

In this small space, I don’t want to overwhelm the room with stuff.

Pool House Bathroom Toilet Side2

1  The lack of natural light in this room, especially compared to the rest of the pool house which is so bright thanks to the generous windows and skylights, feels so dark.  Granted, before the walls were clad in dark stained wood and the only light source was an old light/fan combo.  To bring a little natural light in the room, we’re repurposing an old glass door by painting the frame and frosting the glass, similar to this one.  2  Carrying a bit of the warm wood to this side in the form of picture frames will make this side feel less stark.  3  For a burst of color, movement, and interest, I’d love to add gorgeous abstract art, like the Coral and Palm Nights prints from the talented Britt Bass.  4  While in Minnesota, I took a quick run (45 minutes start to finish!) through Ikea and grabbed a Grundtal toilet roll holder for this space.  The simple design was only six bucks, but I think I’ll paint it matte black to keep the mixed metals to chrome and black.

We’re still far off from the bathroom actually looking like this, but I find it helpful to get my ideas down, not only for myself, but also to show Ben what I have in my mind.  And in store for him in the building department.


DIY Hose Pot & My Favorite Plants

While the weather is nice, I’m outside a lot, pulling weeds, watering plants, even getting a bit of quiet from my loud kids.  To make watering under the house bump outs and the balcony easier, we recently added an outdoor water spigot.  Since this is our main entry, I wanted it hidden, yet accessible, so we tucked it behind the giant catmint.


With the spigot in, we bought a light weight 50 foot long hose, which rolls up much smaller than standard hoses.  Now, how to store the hose?  Again, the goal was low profile, so we nixed a post or mounted hanger.  But hose pots can get really expensive, too.


Then I looked at a plastic planter I’ve had for years, just sitting with a nearly dead succulent on the front entry, as seen above.  It was the solution.


Turning it into hose storage was a simple as drilling a 1 1/2 inch diameter  hole into the double layers of the plastic.


Set the coiled hose inside and feed the hose through and you’re ready to water and store.  Go back up to the first photo to see how unobtrusive the system is.


Being a garden novice, I’ve spent plenty of time researching the best plants for our sun, soil, and water conditions.  As the plants mature, some have quickly risen to the top of my list, for looks as well as ease of care.


We have significantly more sun exposure than anything else, so we’ll start there.

Royal Purple Smoke Tree

Between the driveway and road, my first favorite plant makes an appearance.  Three Royal Purple Smoke Trees add a beautiful deep burgundy color with smoke like ‘flower’ plumes that burst out.  Topping out between 10 and 15 feet tall, the views out the front will not be blocked.  So far this year, each plant has at least two feet of new growth, currently reaching five feet tall.  Before the first snowfall, they’ll get a slight trim to maintain a nice shape and minimize the lanky look.  Other than that, these plants are cold hardy, cover a lot of area, and leave minimal mess behind.



Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

Looking down the driveway and along the front walkway, the second favorite plant, Karl Foerster grasses are filling in.  Seven of the five to six-foot tall columnar grasses soften the steep hillside slope.  Another 14 line the front walkway.


I prefer these in a row for a more modern look, with fifteen more lined along the deck front.


My first experience with these versatile grasses was when I found sixteen on the clearance rack at Lowe’s for three bucks each.  As that row fills out, the bottom of the steep hillside is concealed and looks lush.


Succulents, Angelina Stonecrop specifically

Topping out at 6 inches tall, these ground cover plants spread easily, are cool under heat, and need little water.  They’re ideal in this area below the living room bump out, in full sun. Landscape-June-2017-Bump-Out-PlantsLandscape-June-2017-Front-Walk

I’ve added them in all the nooks and crannies around rocks.  The bold chartreuse color is a lively addition to the landscape, especially near the waterfall where little stems have fallen off and taken root below.


Succulents are great in small areas, because the shallow root system allow easy squishing in tight spaces.



Yet again, cheating the system, but these three are also similar.  Both produce beautiful purple spike like blooms, bask in full sun, and attract bees and butterflies.



Now, let’s talk about the differences, starting with Catmint.  All purple flowers shown above are the Walker’s Low variety, which quickly grow to 30 inches tall and 3 to four feet wide.  The smell is potent, almost sage like, which repels deer and other critters.



Hidcote English Lavender, the purple plant above, grow about 20 inches tall and about two feet in diameter.  Despite it being a zone 5 plant, it has survived the last few winters.  The lovely smell helps repel deer and rabbits, so they’re great to encircle other plants to form a deliciously scented force field.

Russian Sage

Something I’ve noticed, at least on our property, is that the best drought tolerant plants come in purple hues.  Russian sage follows suit, loving the heat, but grows larger than catmint and lavender.  At 4 to 5 feet tall, this plant makes a great statement at the back of a garden.


Tall spike like stems have fluffy purple flowers that bees adore.


Birds also love the seeds that drop; we oodles of birds that make their way around our plants, but especially love the two that flank the fire pit.  Unfortunately, we also have tons of bird poop that’s left behind.


Two years ago, I took a risk and planted a beautiful zone 5 Butterfly Bush.  It did well the first two winters, but this last one was significantly colder, snowier, and we had late spring frosts.  All of which contributed to its untimely, slow death.  I gave it several weeks once other things showed signs of life before pulling it and mourning.

Then I found another for 7 bucks and put it in a planter to be able to put it inside the pool house over the winter.


Seeing as we have very few part sun areas on our property, I have just two favorites for that exposure:

Hydrangea/Snowball Viburnum

Technically, I just cheated by combining the two, but they’re similar looking.  Both do well in partial sun, adjust to soil varieties, and grow large, gorgeous globe like flower clusters.


However, Viburnum grow bigger, topping out around 8 to 12 feet tall and are spring bloomers.  Hydrangea, mine is the Annabelle variety, grow about six feet tall and bloom mid summer.


Two years ago, I found another hydrangea for $5 on the Lowe’s clearance rack and popped it in near our front walkway.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the variety it is.


Creeping Jenny

I haven’t had much luck with this one, other than in containers in partly sunny spots because it dries out quickly.  This hanging planter of Creeping Jenny started as a tiny annual just this May.  It spreads really quickly, so use with caution.  But, if you’re looking for a dense ground cover, this may be your solution.


As for shade plants, you can’t go wrong with a variety of Hosta plants, as seen in the above photo.  Also shown above are beautiful, deep purple Midnight Rose Coral Bells, a shade loving stunner the sprouts spikes of delicate bell shaped flowers.

Due to our steep, boulder riddled hillside creating and following through on a landscape plan has been nearly impossible.  As such, I’ve slowly added plants as I’ve seen ones I on sale, experimenting and learning as I go.  Do you have favorite plants that I didn’t list?  Please share!

Top Outdoor Chair Picks

I’m sorry if you’re sick of seeing the exterior of our house, but when the weather is nice, I’m outside a lot.  If I’m not outside, I’m planning the finishing touches of the outdoor spaces.  Just off the family room, through the sliding door is our reclaimed beam deck.


Above, the angled wall covered in CorTen siding is the back door going into the kitchen area of the pool house.  Centered on the breakfast nook window, we currently have our seen-better-days patio set.

Back-Deck-Dining-TableIt’s nothing fancy, or permanent (fingers crossed we’ll get to that someday) but it works for now.  Directly out the door is an open area, with the exception of a wire coffee table. Back-Deck-Without-ChairsFor three years, I’ve halfheartedly searched for chairs that are a) affordable, b) comfortable, c) light weight but still durable, and d) stack or fold for easy storage.  Not hard, right?  Well, it’s not that difficult, but I’d also prefer something that isn’t wood, or at least all wood, to contrast against the deck.  Light weight is key because I’d love to be able to easily carry the chairs over to the nearby fire pit for s’mores sessions.  Back-Deck-Toward-Waterfall-and-Fire-PitTo further narrow down my options, I’d like to avoid cushions, as this area is full sun and fading will probably happen quickly.  Now that summer is in full swing, I’m amping up my search, hoping to use this area before winter hits.Outdoor Lounge Chair Round Up

  1.   Ikea Brommo     .     2.  Hampton Bay Arthur     .     3.  World Market Girona     .     4.  Article Sala     .     5.  Belham Living Adirondack     .     6.  Dwell Magazine Modern Lounge  (and white)

Those Ikea chairs were topped my list, but our lack of a local store makes it tricky to snag four before they’re sold out.  I missed out again this year.  Womp, womp.  Not all is lost, because I also really like the Dwell Magazine Modern chairs.  I’d prefer black, but worry they’re be too hot for summer use.

To make sure I’d be happy with my choice, I turned to my trusty friend, Photoshop to test drive.



Yep, I think they’ll work perfectly, so I ordered four for in store pick up next week.


Let the s’more roasting begin!  Happy Fourth of July to my fellow U.S. residents!

Finishing Touches

Though we remodeled our kitchen in 2015, the corner that is my office and the door to the pool wasn’t finished until last week.  Just off the kitchen was a little L shaped desk of oak cabinets with dark wallpaper all around.


It didn’t take long before I stripped the wallpaper and pulled off the decorative cabinet trim.


When we renovated the kitchen, we decided to widen the door to the pool house, making the office a desk below the window wall.

Kitchen-Remodel-Empty-Office-Plan-DrawingsTwo efficient drawer stacks store everything I need, and also art supplies of the boys.  But the walls looked sad and we needed to finish below the window.



Just this past April, that still hadn’t been done and you can see part of the old swinging door.


With the new door installed, things were finally to a point of finish.  Then I stalled on painting the trim for a month and a half.  Last week, I had time to quickly paint and finally wrap this project up.





It’s a far cry from the dark, bland beginnings.Breakfast-Nook-and-Kitchen-After-Move-In-April-30

Widening the door really makes the pool house feel less like the addition it was and more like an intentional part of the house.


Now to get it in tip-top shape to have a prettier view out that new door.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Heart Warming Housewarming Gifts

Wedding season is in full swing, but it also seems like the real estate market picks up this time of year.  Friends of ours bought their first house this week, so I’ve been thinking about housewarming gifts recently.  Pick one or a combo of the following favorites that are sure to please.

First off, a custom house portrait is a beautiful and thoughtful gift.  I’ve had one made for both of our houses, by two artists.  The top one is by Patricia from PVE Design and bottom painted by Jess at The Littlest House.


Though they’re both watercolor paintings, the styles are as different as the houses and show the unique style of the artists.  I’d highly recommend both.  Bonus, if you’re in need of a wedding gift, a wedding venue painting is perfect.

Wedding Venue Painting

I recently painted one for a friend and it was so well received, I think it’ll be my go to from now on.

When giving gifts, I find it helpful to buy cuter/fancier versions of everyday items.    If you want to focus on the front entry, give a personalized, and functional, welcome with a monogrammed door mat.  Or a potted olive tree, as they symbolize peace, friendship, and abundance.  Heck, maybe even a cute doorbell to replace the standard one that’s been there for 20 years.  A monogrammed leather key chain is a great celebration for those new keys.  Help the new owners stay organized with a multi-functional mail station.

Front-Entry-Housewarming-GiftsThese funny towels are good for a laugh, but also drying hands and dishes.  Toss in a yummy smelling dish or hand soap (Mrs. Meyer’s Radish is one of my favorites), a scrubbing-brush, maybe even a plant, and you’ve got a sweet gift.  Bonus points if you ‘wrap’ it all together in a cute basket or even a dish drying rack.

Towel-and-Soap-House-Warming-GiftGoing along with the kitchen items, a personalized cutting board is useful, but special enough to keep out.  How about this cute candle to fill the home with a beautiful scent?  As a plant lover, I think a shallow bowl (that has a matching salad serving set) turned into a herb planter would be a treat to give (or receive).


Obviously, most of these items would translate well as a wedding gift, so I hope this round-up is useful for someone this summer season.