Basement Bathroom: Almost Finished

The last basement puzzle piece is nearly finished.  Starting from scratch after demo, we framed new walls and have checked rooms off one by one.  A newly finished theater/hangout room, guest bedroom,  small mud nook, and laundry room are all finished minus some accessorizing.

Only ten months after tearing everything apart, the bathroom is just about finished, too.


We built the custom vanity  with a combo of storage options.  Drawers for small items, a cabinet for large/ugly things, an open shelf for toilet paper and/or towels, and a gap at the bottom to keep it from feeling too heavy.


As soon as the paint cures, sconces and a wood mirror will go up.



By far the most involved room, the bathroom has taken many weekends over the last few months to get put together, with the shower taking up the bulk of the time.  Forming the shower pan, coating the walls with red guard, tiling the floor, walls, and ceiling isn’t a quick process and requires a lot of dry time.

It’s all worth it for the finished product.


Caulking the tile seams still has to happen before the shower is usable, but that’s a small step in the scheme of things.


A soap nook above the shower control is convenient, but out of sight from the door to keep ugly bottles hidden.


Tiling the shower ceiling is a new thing for us, but really elevates the look while keeping the moisture inside.  A sleek shower head extends from the ceiling for a modern look.


Next to the shower, behind the door in the old closet space, we built four shelves to hold any bathroom necessities or accessories.


It’s a far cry from the orange and yellow beginnings, that no matter how much scrubbing, never felt clean.




And now I can tackle the fun part of adding art and accessories.

Railroad Spike Coat Rack

Our entry isn’t huge, roughly eight by four and a half feet, but it is very nice to have a separate designated space.  With the door slightly off-center, there’s a sliver of wall with a box shelf to keep keys, sunglasses, and other necessities close by with a stool tucked below.  Across, there’s a half wall, where the living room floor starts.  It’s an awkward little wall, with the stairs going up that turns into a strange polygon.


Though we have an entry closet at the top of the stairs, and our newly added mud nook right inside the garage door at the base of the stairs, those are areas mainly used by our family.

Build in a mini mudroom:

I wanted a quick and easy drop spot for our guests to hang coats, purses, and backpacks close to the front door.  After a day visiting Ben’s dad at the ranch, I found some great items to turn into a unique coat rack.  I also came home with an old horseshoe and another turtle shell to hang above the art in the dining room.  Such a treasure trove of goodies!


Anyway, back to the coat rack.  To start, I snagged a board of live edge wood along with a bunch of railroad spikes.


After discussing my idea with Ben, he helped me make my idea a reality.  While I thoroughly looked at the board, I settled on the most character filled three feet and cut it to size.  At three feet wide, I wanted to space 5 spikes six inches apart, leaving six inches on either end.  Following the shape of the wood, I marked five dots while Ben used a steel cutting chop saw to cut the spikes to three inches.


I didn’t want any visible attachment, so Ben drilled 3/4 inch holes, then used a rubber mallet to pound the spikes in.


Who says you can’t jam a square peg in a round hole?


The result is seamless, simple, and rustic-just the way I like it.


Hanging was as easy as two screws through the wood, into the floor joist.


Turning that little sliver into usable space should come in very handy this winter season, especially.


Style wise, the simplicity blends seamlessly with the adjacent living room.


The best part is that it took about 30 minutes, start to finish to make and hang.  I’m wondering if it’d be too much to make another to use as a towel rack.

Our Kitchen Organization

I’m always curious about houses and love seeing what’s lies behind the front doors of houses I admire.  Walking through open houses and estate sales is my idea of a fun day.  On a creepier side, I even enjoy getting glimpses of the interiors of homes while driving at night.  Come on, you know you do, too.  Don’t confuse that with stalking or walking up and peering in windows.


Part of the appeal is just seeing what the homes look like.  It’s also interesting to see how people live in the homes, as each person has a different style, set of needs, and way of using the home.

In that vein, I thought I’d show where and how things are stored in our kitchen.  Our pantry holds the bulk of our dry goods.  Baskets on the highest shelf (not shown) hold bulk spices that we use to refill our containers.  The next shelf down has a basket of chips/crackers, nuts, peanut butter, and dried fruit.  Below that is the microwave and canned goods.  Another basket holds oatmeal, snacks, and extra cereal.  The last shelf is dedicated to extra condiments, oils, vinegar, produce, mac and cheese and rice.  At the very bottom are the heaviest items like juices, protein powder, and the bin holds dry pasta.


Rotating just to the right are the double ovens with a drawer below and cabinet above.  The cabinet stores our vertical items like serving platters, cookie sheets, and cutting boards.


In the tall drawer below we store large baking dishes, muffin pans, our food processor, and the crock pot is normally in that open spot.


Our glass front upper cabinet stores our most often used dishes, keeping the daily use items closer to the bottom.


In the drawer stack below the glass cabinet is our junk drawer, as well as our overflow storage.  Glass baking dishes, pie and loaf pans, and coffee supplies aren’t used too often around the house, so they’re handy, but not in the central area.




The top drawer of the stack nearest the sink holds sponges, towels, foil, and storage bags.



Kids dishes and food storage containers are in the middle drawer, with extra foil, bags, straws, water bottles, and lunch containers below.


Typically, we do our prep work on the left side of the island, near the cooktop.  To keep everything as close to the work area, the knives and utensils are directly below.


Pans and a salad spinner tuck away in the middle drawer while larger pots and lids live below.



Directly below the left side of the cooktop, and just to the right of the work surface, is our trash drawer with a recycle bin and extra bags.


Lunch supplies and snacks are within arms reach of our lunch making spot.


Under that are the small appliances we use on a regular basis, including the toaster, waffle maker, and blender.


Baking usually happens on the right side of the island, near the pantry and ovens.  Again, to keep things handy, the top right drawer stocks our spice jars, labeled on the top for easy finding, but are easily refilled when low.  A few baking specific utensils are also in here along with oven mitts and a small recipe binder.


The middle drawer has mixing and serving bowls, a few cookbooks, and hand mixers.


Storing the baking staples in the bottom drawer has been so handy.  The red lid containers hold white and wheat flour, sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips.  A few round containers have powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda.  Containers with flip lids keep cereals fresh, but handy for the boys to pull out.


Across the kitchen, near the breakfast nook and dining room is this built-in hutch.


It’s stocked with liquor, drinking glasses, and extra serving pieces.


The left drawer keeps the boys’ art supplies close at hand, but not in the main area.


The other drawer is stocked with napkins, candles, bottle openers, and other randomly used items.


If you’re a nosy house lover, I hope this post satisfies that curiosity.

The Appeal of Stainless Steel

Nearly three years ago, while researching finishes for our master bathroom remodel, we decided on a stainless steel countertop and shower base.  Stainless isn’t the most commonly used material, but it has performed wonderfully in this room.



Of course, like any material, there are pros and cons.  Stainless is a durable, waterproof, solid surface material that is more affordable than stone (remnants not included).  Unlike granite, marble, and concrete, it doesn’t require a sealant or any maintenance.  However, the shiny finish does show dust easily.



Water spots are another issue, as well as finger prints.


Despite showing everything, cleaning is extremely easy with an E-Cloth or Norwex set.


I use one to clean, then follow-up with a polishing cloth for a streak free shine.  For really stubborn areas, I sprinkle a bit of Bon Ami or Bar Keeper’s Friend on and gently scrub with a damp sponge before wiping away the residue.


That’s all easy, but everyone asks about scratches.  Yes, stainless will scratch, but with normal wear and tear, the scratches are simply on the surface and cannot be felt.  If you have a stainless kitchen sink, take a close look at it.  You’ll see scratches and scuffs, but those don’t negatively affect the function.  Since our master bath isn’t a high traffic space, most of the counter looks new, unlike a hard-working kitchen sink.


After living with and loving our master bath, we decided to use stainless again in our laundry room.  Again, the durability and affordability won.


Not to mention, they look fantastic and provide a great work space that is hard to beat up.


In this higher traffic room, the newer counters already have more scratches than the bathroom.


I fold laundry here, so maybe the buttons, zippers, and rivets on clothes leave scratches behind.  We also store paint supplies and other tools which get pushed around on here.


Scratches and all, we love our stainless and can’t recommend them highly enough.  We’re actually considering more stainless counters for another upcoming remodel.  What can I say, we’re addicts now.

Our Home at Night

We all love seeing photos of beautifully designed, sun drenched homes, right?  I know I’m drawn to those bright, airy spaces that are so often featured in magazines, advertisements, and blogs.

For a few months now, I’ve wanted to share a different approach, featuring night shots to show how cozy a dark home can look.  Honestly, many rooms in our south-facing home do receive a generous dose of sunlight.  But what happens when the sun sinks?  Life still goes on, of course, but rooms don’t lose their beauty without sunlight.

Granted, taking true to life photos that capture the warmth and details is one hundred times more difficult.  Our family room, on the darker north (back) side of the house always feels a bit cozier.


I think it’s a combo of the indirect light, privacy/courtyard feel of the back deck, fireplace, and the surrounding rooms.  Being adjacent to the kitchen certainly feels less formal and more inviting.


Due to the floating furniture arrangement with main walkways around, table or floor lamp cords would pose a tripping hazard.  Instead, we have three different sources of lights; directional can lights above the fireplace, another set angled toward the right wall, and a pair of sconces flanking the door.


A little nook for firewood and family photos is laid back and casual.  How cute would a little lamp look tucked in there?  I may have to make that happen, if I can find a perfect fit.


In the kitchen, a small table and four chairs create a breakfast nook with a vintage globe light above.


In that same area, a built-in hutch cabinet stores pretty dishes and serving pieces, as well as a stocked bar for entertaining.  After I took this photo, I added a set of ceramic house candle holders for a soft, flickering option.


In the main kitchen area, simple recessed can lights shine down on the walnut island centerpiece.


Glass front cabinets are one of my favorite features because the addition of dishes and accessories add character to a utilitarian space.


Our dining room is right off the kitchen, which is where we eat family meals, entertain guests, play games, and do homework.


Finding a light fixture that offered a warm glow was crucial for us, as we wanted a diffused, candle light feel.  In my opinion, bright or downcast lights in a dining room don’t give the ‘come, sit, stay a while’ feel.


As you can see, I need to add another shell over the other picture frame, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this alterative view of our home.