Four Year Home Tour: Part Two

Continuing the tour, let’s walk down the hall and peek into the bathrooms and bedrooms.

Four years ago, when we closed, the only tub in the house was the clawfoot in the main bath.  Having two little kids and guests, a tub only wasn’t the most ideal layout, nor were the finishes selected.

New-House-Main-Bathroom April 13 2012

Our first project was to remodel the bathroom, adding a tub/shower combo, and create more privacy by the toilet.


Across the room, a large, intricate vanity with small drawers and little storage took up a lot of floor space.  Note the plug-in sconces, in a bathroom.

Main Bathroom Vanity Before

Utilizing vertical space, we built the floor to ceiling narrow shelving for storage.  Keeping the vanity open, and painted a unique color, visually lightens the room, while still offering storage for toilet paper, towels, and bath toys.


The smallest bedroom in the house, the guest room, featured wall to wall, floor to ceiling oak bookshelves, a boob light, and another broken window.

Guest Room Before

With a tight layout, we wanted to create a useful room, with plenty of walking space and even a dresser.  To do so, we cut out a notch in the shelves to recess the bed, making a cozy nook.  Sconces flank either side, with the shelves serving as a nightstand.  A larger window creates an egress access and brightens the north facing room.


Across from the bed is a petite dresser and small closet.


Perhaps the most neutral space before, the boys’ bedroom, had two windows and oodles of sun shining in.  It also had unevenly patched walls and popcorn ceilings.

Boys Room Before

When working on spaces for kids, I like to ask for their opinions.  Before getting started on the fun stuff, I fixed the walls, scraped the ceiling smooth, and we replaced the fogged up old windows.  Then came the fun part, and the boys helped choose the wall color, art, and stripe curtains.


There’s a small space between the entrance and closet doors, but the starting point was a blank slate.

Boys Room Before

To use the small space, a handed down bookshelf fills the space nicely, without eating up precious real estate.  Of course the Star Wars gear makes an appearance.


While the boys’ room was neutral, the master bedroom had peeling/painted over wallpaper, electric blue walls, two large windows, an ugly ceiling fan, and popcorn ceilings.


As with the entry, we added a wood planked wall for texture and interest and later painted it white.  On other walls, I painstakingly peeled off the old wallpaper and scraped off popcorn ceilings.  A custom bed, sewed leather top curtain panels, and floating nightstand add character and warmth.  We also replaced the window and added a door leading out to a small, private balcony.


Along the left wall is our walk in closet.


Oh the power of paint!  Blue walls be gone, in with bright white and nearly black walls.  A large leaning mirror is a functional way to put the small area to work.  Storing extra blankets looks good on a DIY ladder rack.


Across the room is the entry door (to the right) as well as the master bathroom (on the left).  With a generous open area, it’s a bit challenging to put to good use.  A master sitting area seems to be the go to.


Instead, a recently found Craigslist dresser brings the warm wood tones over to this side of the room.  Added storage is always a plus, but I love having a surface to hold decorative items, too.  I hear masking tape is the new, modern alternative to picture frames, didn’t you?  Haha, no, a frame will happen…eventually.


Four years ago, if you went through the door you would have seen a hot dog covered with ketchup and mustard-esque room.  Red walls, yellow tile and sinks, and brown floors.  In a word, woof.

Maroon Master Bathroom Before

After a full gut remodel, we have a modern meets rustic retreat.  Ben built a custom walnut vanity, topped with a stainless steel counter and vessel sink.  More tongue and groove is a durable lower wall and a high contrast against the dark upper.


Double sinks on a long vanity were nice, but not something we really need.

Maroon Master Bathrom Vanity Before

Instead, we shortened the vanity to five feet with a single sink, allowing room for the clawfoot tub we pulled out of the main bath.


Though much of the basement is still in the process, here’s a peek at the previous arrangement.  Door number one (to the left) led into the under stair storage, and the small French doors went into a big, open space.


With a bit of reconfiguration, we turned part of the under stair storage into a small mud nook.  Straight ahead is a bedroom, with a theater space on the other side.


Stay tuned for the exterior changes, as this post has also gotten lengthy.

Luck of the Irish

I may not have Irish heritage, but I undeniably love the color green.  As a kid, when coloring or painting, I didn’t consider my work done until I added a splash of green somewhere.  If you’re wondering, yes, I was a complete nerd who loved to draw, paint, build and decorate cardboard doll houses.  I remember making a yellow-backed floral wall paper by drawing on white printer paper.  It’s too bad I don’t have photos, because I’m sure it was just lovely-haha.

To me, green adds a vibrancy and lively element no other colors can.  Yes, yellow is bright and cheery, but it doesn’t add the right warmth.  Blues are beautiful and soothing, but can’t quite make the statement green can.  Green is so abundant in nature, whether light, fresh spring green, dark mid summer grass-green, or the muted tones found in fall and winter.  As a general green lover, I’ve incorporated some of each throughout my home and I urge you to do the same.

Some rooms have just a sprinkle (nothing too in your face) of green, such as our family room. In a mostly neutral space, nearly citron green pillows liven up the couch and add a jolt of color.


A brightly colored green and blue landscape painting perks up the mantle while the lumbar pillows pull the color down to the neutral chairs.  Just a few small green accessories like books, a small vase, and candles pepper the color around the rest of the room.


Our kitchen counters are dark, nearly black green soapstone that still reads as a neutral.


Small additions like towels, plants, dishes, even fruit are quick, zero commitment ways to add even more color.


Other rooms have a slightly bigger swath of green, like our living room.  Six sets of luscious grass-green velvet curtains flank the windows.


Cover the curtains with your hand and you’ll notice just how much life and personality they bring to the room.  When in doubt, always default to house plants to get that bit of color without overwhelming a room.  Bonus, you don’t have to deal with picking paint colors or fabrics.


Speaking of paint, sometimes a quart can make the biggest impact.  At less than $20, what do you have to lose by giving it a try?  Our main bathroom rocks an olive-green vanity, which has so much more character than any neutral ever will.


Toss a few more green accessories, in this case, hand towels and a nearly ugly 70’s landscape painting, around the room to complete the look.

Main Bathroom Overall

According to the color wheel, green is a cool color, but it certainly adds warmth to any space.  A muddy sagey olive acts as an almost neutral backdrop in our guest bedroom.


Pairing with bright white it feels so fresh, clean, and simple.  But greens really shine next to warm wood tones, much like a tree trunk and leaves.


By far the most overtly green room in the house is the boys’ bedroom.  Back when I gave their room a makeover, I asked each of them what color walls they wanted.  One said green and the other said yellow.  We compromised with this lemongrass yellow-green.  It’s fun and happy, but is tempered by white, gray, and navy.


Our master suite, though mostly white and black, has green tucked here and there.  More grass-green velvet wraps the headboard for a touch of color against an otherwise white wall.


Opposite the bed, a few bright green plants and (soon to be framed) landscape painting flank a dresser, bringing color around the room in a simple, easy-going way.


Even our master bathroom has touches of green via plants and a very abstract landscape.


Though we’re not quite at the point of the basement remodel to paint and add accessories, I’m trying to narrow down green paint options to use down there in a few ways.  I think we all have a color we naturally gravitate toward, right?  What’s yours, and more importantly, how do you use it in your decor?


Take a look at this picture of the guest room headboard and bookshelves:

Now look at the current version:


Despite having even more books, does it feel calmer, more natural?  I hope it does, because that was my goal.  I started by donating the few books I had read and didn’t like/wouldn’t recommend.  Followed up by brutally eliminating every accessory/knick knack/tchotchke I didn’t absolutely love.  I think only five things made the cut.  Then, one shelf at a time, I pulled everything off to dust.

Being OCD, I have always separated my books into fiction and non-fiction groups main groups.  Then sub categories for history, biographies, science, etc. and finally in rainbow order.  Red books marked the beginning of a new group, making quick work of finding different categories.  Even in my old office:


Through the years, my system hasn’t changed.  But recently while at the school, I saw filled library cart, spines all facing up.  Spines facing up.  Duh, why haven’t I added that element to my system?  Wanting a calmer color palette, it offers all the benefits of the controversial turning the spines to the wall trick, but, on lower shelves, books are still easy to find.  Only snag is our floor to ceiling shelving, leaving the upper two shelves out of view.  To keep these shelves as neutral as possible, I pulled out the white, black, gray, and tan books.  These got a home on the top shelves, spines facing out for easy finding.


Remaining lower shelves are all nestled in, spines up and easily seen from above.


Occasionally, I placed a stack of books to break things up and create a pedestal for decorative items.  Like this engraved silver cup turned fake succulent planter.


In addition to creating less visual clutter, flipping the books had another benefit.  I was able to add three more shelves to the mix due to the shorter height.  I have my fair share of books, so keeping everything together, tidy, and organized is my preference.


Bed height shelves also serve as built-in night stands, complete with an outlet on each side.


For best function, I tried to keep each of those relatively clear, without having an entirely empty shelf.


Over the past year, I’ve made a conscious effort to bring in and keep only accessories I love.  More and more, I’m drawn to natural elements and pieces.  A few really cool driftwood pieces are on simple display above the bed.


Maybe having two hunter/gatherer boys has affected me.  Collections of wood, rocks, feathers, antlers, shells, and even a few skulls have made their way inside.  Each one has a memory or a story, unlike trendy store-bought piece I’m almost guaranteed to grow tired of.  Mixing those nature finds in adds a lot of character without costing a dime.


Everything in nature is the perfect color, too.  Nothing insanely bright or neon, simply beautiful.  So I’ve happily been leaning on nature for the answers to my decoration conundrums.  Have you seen any noticeable shifts in your decor preferences?

Guest Green

I’m finished with the quick and cheap guest room update.  I wouldn’t consider it a makeover because all I really did was repaint the walls, upholster the headboard, rearrange the bookshelves, and swap a few furniture pieces.  Add in a few accessories and voilà, new room.  For a full walk down memory lane, here’s the room the day we got the keys to this house:

Good starting point, but it was dark and drab.  I quickly unloaded the books and accessories on the shelf and we pushed the bed against the only wall wide enough for a queen bed.  Not at all better.

To add another foot of usable space opposite the bed, we carved out a little nook in the shelves, adding sconces for a cozy space.  A larger window, white paint, and color cheered up the room tremendously.

Almost three years after finishing that, it didn’t flow with the rest of the house.  It’s not that I didn’t like the room, it now felt chaotic and cluttered.  Not wanting or needing to completely overhaul the room, I devised a plan to shake things up while toning it down.  All for under 100 bucks.  Ready to see it now?


I always say this, but paint offers the most bang for your buck when changing a room.  For only $25 the room is calmer, but still has color.  After comparing swatches, I settled on Thicket by Benjamin Moore, color matched at Home Depot.  It’s a mid tone green with subtle brown undertones, making it soft.


Another easy change that cost twenty dollars was the upholstered headboard.  Two yards of natural linen fabric, batting, and a staple gun covered the old painted panel.  Better yet, it took two hours, tops, to knock it out.


I adore the softness and texture it adds.



Changing the bookshelves might be my favorite update though.  More on that soon.


For another $20, I got a cream and gray stripe cotton throw from TJ Maxx.  Using more of my credit, I chose a light rose Pendleton wool pillow.  Yet another fast way to add texture and pattern to the room without committing to anything drastic.


Shuffling furniture from different rooms was another free way to change the mood of the room.  Previously, a petite mid-century dresser sat against this wall.  I love it, but it always seemed just a tad small.


Moving my grandpa’s old dresser up from the basement took only a few minutes.


Just a few inches wider and taller, it fills out this side, but still leaves breathing room.


Perched atop is a small lamp, a few accessories, and what may be my favorite new houseplant.  This Rhipsalis, found as a hanging plant at Home Depot, thrives in low light.  Perfect live greenery for this north facing room.


Oh, here’s another tip.  When artists include art on business cards, don’t throw it away.  Cut a small chunk of trim to size and mount the card to the front.  Tiny little art to settle in.


Years ago, I received an old oak chair from my great-grandmother.  After sanding the peeling finish off and replacing the seat cushion, it’s a piece I love.


It still has plenty of character, but the wood tone against the green wall was too good to pass up.  A stack of stripe towels are guest ready and in sight.


The bird, tree, and feather gallery wall is still my favorite collection/grouping.


Even better, it covers up the old sconce boxes, so you’d never know they’re behind there.

Guest Room Without Sconces Gallery Wall

So that’s the story on the calm and nature inspired guest room.  Even better, it cost about sixty-five big ones.


Our guest room was one of the first rooms we tackled after moving in.  Not much has changed since finishing it.

While I like the room on its own, now that we’ve worked on more of the house, it doesn’t exactly flow with the rest of the house.


Fortunately, it’s nothing a can of paint, a few yards of fabric, and a little rearranging can’t fix.  For the walls, I’m really feeling an olive-green, to cozy up the room.


After painting the main bath vanity Tate Olive, I started thinking about making similar changes to the guest room.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity

Using leftover paint, I made a sample board on a scrap of foam core.


Clearly I like the color, but for an entire north facing room, it might be too dark.  In the much brighter south-facing master bed and bath, I didn’t hesitate to go dark and bold.


On the other hand, it could be warm and enveloping.  The wall of white bookshelves brightens up the room, too.  When paired with a linen upholstered headboard, the natural tones would be perfectly earthy.


If Tate Olive is too dark, I found Thicket, a lighter, still similar color.  After paint, the other side, opposite the bed, will get a little change.  I still love the art and arrangement, but I’d like to repaint the dresser top.

Perhaps new curtain panels, too.  The rolled shade is easy to close, but annoying to roll up to open.  How do you feel about dark colors in small spaces?