My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Entries in Bathroom (19)


Installing the Vapor Barrier for the Bathroom Shower

With all of the plumbing in and the rough approval complete I set about installing a vapor barrier for the bathroom shower surround. I actually did this back in September before my crazy period of travel this fall, but I didn't have time to organize the photos and write about it until now.

Although the porcelain subway tiles that I will tiling the shower surround with are waterproof the grout and the cement backer board is not so it is important to protect the wood studs with a vapor barrier. I choose to use clear 6 mil polyethylene behind my cement backer board for my vapor barrier.

There are other ways to waterproof the shower, like using RedGard or Kerdi waterproofing membrane, but the important thing is that you should only install one vapor barrier (i.e. do not install sheeting behind the cement backer board and then RedGard over the cement backer board) so that moisture won't get trapped between the barriers.

Because this is a barrier against moisture throughout the installation process I used the least amount of staples needed to keep the sheeting in place in order to minimize staple holes in the sheeting.

I started by lining the soap/shampoo nook in the shower. I cut a piece that was larger than the nook and used my stapler to tack it to the back of the nook.  I folded the corners to lie flat and then trimmed off the excess sheeting around the nook.

Next I cut a single continuous piece of sheeting that would wrap around my whole shower with some excess at the top and bottom. I cut tight holes around the plumbing and secured it to the walls with a few more staples.

To finish the nook area I trimmed out a rectangle a few inches smaller than the nook out of the sheeting. I cut a diagonal slit at each corner and the folded the excess into the nook and stapled it down.

As a last step I trimmed the excess sheeting off of the top and bottom of the shower surround. To make sure that any water trapped by the vapor barrier would drain into the tub I lifted up the bottom of the sheeting, applied clear waterproof silicone caulk to the lip of the tub and then pressed the sheeting into the caulk making a nice water tight seal. I also added a dab of the silicone caulk over each of my staple holes and to seal where the two sheets met in the nook for good measure.

When I finished installing the sheeting Frank peeked into the bathroom to see what I had been up to and said it looked like something from the set of the TV show Dexter. Yes, it does look a little scary right now but I can already imagine it covered with beautiful subway tile. Next up is installing the cement backer board (the photo below aready has the first piece installed in the nook with one of my subway tiles propped up) and then the tiling fun will begin!


Plumbing in the Downstairs Bathroom

Progress is being made on the downstairs bathroom! The plumbing is in and has passed rough inspection. After the plumber passed his rough I had the building inspector take a look at things (a partial rough inspection) and he said that I can close up the floor and walls where there is no electric since the electrician hasn't been able to get in yet.

While this doesn't look like much, it has been a long time coming. As I mentioned before, I had done a little sprucing up of this bathroom before, but it wasn't until the pipes burst and opened up the walls that I discovered that it wasn't up to code in many ways.

The primary thing was that the bathroom was built on a platform to bring it up to the level of the hallway (the bathroom was in a part of the house that was a porch that was later enclosed). The joists of the platform were built parallel to the floor joists underneath and was resting on sheets of particle board. It was dangerous and I'm not sure how there wasn't a problem before.

This meant that I had to take down two walls of the bathroom as well as the platform and rebuild it all. I built a platform using 2x10 lumber with the joists on 16" centers. This lowered the floor a bit and helped with the ceiling height problem I had. Bathroom ceilings are supposed to be 6'8" throughout, but due to the slope of the ceiling I was a little short in the back. I spoke with the development official who approves all the construction permits and he said that as long as I maintained the clearance over the fixtures he could approve my plans. The slightly lower platform and moving the back wall in just a bit allowed me to do that.

For the two walls that needed to be reframed I sketched out what I wanted (exact spots for the shampoo and soap nook in the shower as well as the medicine cabinets over the sink and toilet) and hired someone else to frame it and hang the drywall on the outside to save some time.

With the plumbing and bathtub in place it is starting to look like a bathroom. The room is small so it is hard to get a full shot but here is one with my new wide angle lens.

I can't wait!



Master Bathroom Renovation Recap 

I realized that although I had finished up my master bathroom I had never put together an overall post with pictures from around the whole room. I thought I'd start by sharing the floor plan in the back portion of the upstairs when I bought the house and what I revamped it to.

The previous owners had taken the 13-1/2' x 13-1/2' room in the back and carved out a 5' x 8' space to create a bathroom. It left a really weird nook in the rest of the space that they had drywalled but never finished. The whole thing was quite strange. The room next door was a nice size at 10' x 10' (with a little angle cut off the corner) and seemed to be used as a kitchen at some point based on pipes sticking out of the wall and some teacup wallpaper in the closet. It seemed to me that a better use of the space was to make the old kitchen room into a master bathroom which would then leave a large space in the back room for me to make a craft room.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to layout the new bathroom. The window was off center in the room so by placing my shower in the corner I was able to make the window look like it was centered on the wall. Most of the old bathroom was unsalveagable but I saved the old claw foot tub and placed it under the window. In one corner of the bathroom was a bump out for the old chimney. In order to make it less pronounced looking and give myself some storage I decided to put a built in in the space between the chimney and shower. I kept the door locations the same and from there it was easy to determine the location for the toilet and sink.

Here a few pictures of the space before. Yeah, I know that it looked like a scary old haunted house and I am crazy to have bought the place. Looking back at the old pictures encourages me because it reminds me how far my house has come even though there is a lot more left to do.

Okay, now for the fun part, the after pictures. The room was gutted to the studs with new electrical, HVAC and plumbing. Putting the room back together the bathroom was drywalled and new trim was installed including beadboard wainscoting around the room. The old linoleum was torn out and the floors were refinished. Those major renovations required me to hire some professionals for some things as well as get the helping hand of a friend for some others.

For a color scheme I thought teal and white with a few hints of black would be bright and refreshing. Since my house is over a hundred years old I wanted to keep a vintage feel to my bathroom. Also, since I lived in Japan and really enjoyed their strong culture around bathing (i.e. going to hot springs (onsen) for bathing, taking regular soaking baths at home) I included some small Japanese touches in my bathroom's decorative accents as well.

My clawfoot bathtub was salvaged from the old bathroom and while the porcelain on the inside was in great shape the outside paint was beige and chipping off. I refinished the outside with a pale teal paint and then added a new vintage style chrome faucet with white handles. On the floor in front of the bathtub I made a rug by sewing together some towels. On the walls flanking the window, I framed some pretty decorative packaging from Japanese bath salts.

I made the shower 3 feet by 5 feet which was spacious enough for two shower heads. I also wanted it to be open so I designed it to have the knee walls with clear glass above and splurged to have custom glass installed (I think it was worth it!). With all the space in the shower I decided to build myself a little shower stool to fit in the corner.

This was my very first experience in tiling and being an engineer I was pretty anal retentive about the way I lined up the tile and wrapped the pattern around the corners. I bought a used wet tile saw from a guy off of Craig's List for $100 and it was worth every penny! I chose 3" x 6" white field tile to give a vintage subway tile look plus as an added bonus it was inexpensive. For my accent liner bars I thought that black tile was a good neutral choice so that it left me free to change up the colors in the bathroom in the future without worrying about the tile color.

My built-in is one of my favorite parts of the room. I designed it to have open storage up top as well as some concealed storage down low. For fun I added some black and white damask patterned wallpaper to the back of the top of the built-in. I had a lot of fun arranging the shelves with practical bath items, like towels and my Japanese bath salts, and decorative items, like white coral that I picked up on a beach in the USVI and framed pictures that I took of a famous Japanese onsen. 

Above the toilet I made over a free mirror with some silver spray paint to tie in with the chrome fixtures in the room. On the back of the toilet I have displayed a little white bowl that I made at a pottery studio in Seto, a town famous in Japan for pottery. Seeing it every day brings back some good memories. Since space was tight and I didn't want to add holes to my beadboard, I chose to use a free standing toilet paper holder.

Since I had plenty of storage in the built-in I chose a pedestal sink to keep the bathroom looking open as well as maintain the vintage feel. Like the shower and tub, the new fixtures are chrome with white handles in a vintage style. I thought about building my own medicine cabinet, but then found this one at the Pottery Barn Outlet for such a great deal that I couldn't resist.

For lighting I bought a pair of black porcelain sconces that are vintage reproductions. I have a matching black porcelain ceiling fixture that I paired with a vintage glass globe that I found on eBay. I love how the globe is white on the sides and has the detailed deco pattern in the clear glass on the bottom. My ceiling fan came with a plastic vent cover that I felt didn't go with the look of the bathroom so I built my own vent cover out of wood and some perforated metal.

Inside my medicine cabinet I added some more wallpaper and then organized by using some inexpensive black and white cardboard containers. The bottom of my built-in was organized with some more cardboard containers and wire baskets. By nature I am not an organized person (some days Pigpen has nothing on me) and the little containers really help me to corral things and have some semblance of order. These shelves are by far the neatest area in my house right now. I really wish I was kidding but unfortunately I am not. 

On the back of the door next to the sink (which leads to my master bedroom closet and then on to my master bedroom) I hung up and labeled baskets to sort my laundry. This has really me to keep my piles of laundry off the floor. Now when a basket is full I can just take it off the hook and down to my laundry room.

Well, there you have it, more detail than you would ever want to know about my bathroom. It has been a lot of work but I really love it and I wouldn't want to change a thing (for now that is!).

If you are curious, here is a list of sources for the room. As a disclaimer I started remodeling it back when I bought my house and many of the decorative/storage items I have had for years and years so some items are discontinued and there are a few things I where I just don't remember.

Wall Paint: Valspar Lyndhurst Duchess Blue
Trim Paint: Valspar Betsy's Linen
Bathtub Paint: Valspar Beach House
Ceiling Light Fixture: Rejuvenation Mathison Streamline Porcelain Ceiling Fixture
Ceiling Light Shade: Vintage from eBay
Sconces: Rejuvenation Adrian Streamline Wall Bracket
Shower Door: Custom by Wolverine and Moore Glass
White Shower Wall Tile: American Olean 3-in x 6-in Starting Line White Gloss Ceramic Wall Tile
Black Shower Tile: American Olean 1-in x 6-in Linea Gloss Black Ceramic Tile Liner
Shower Floor Tile: The Tile Shop Hex Matte White .75 x .75 in
Pedestal Sink: Kohler Memoirs (Base Link)
Toilet: Kohler Memoirs
Medicine Cabinet: Pottery Barn Sonoma Wall Mounted Medicine Cabinet (purchased at Pottery Barn Outlet)
Built-in Cabinet Handles: Lewis Dolin Retro Pull
Wallpaper: Norwall Black & White BK32032
Black & White Cardboard Bins: Target One Spot
Wire Baskets: Target
White Reclaimed Wood Picture Frame: Mulbury Gallery (purchased at an art fair in Australia)
Teal Leather Picture Frames: Papyrus
Black Wall Frames: Meijer
Toilet Paper Holder, Cotton Swab Container, Stand Mirror: HomeGoods
Soap Dispenser: Target
Large Starfish: Michael's
Towels: Target Room Essentials
Rug: Made from HomeGoods Towels 
Laundry Baskets: Ikea Nasum


Simple Bathroom Upgrades

Although my bathroom is pretty much done, I made a few simple upgrades recently that had a big impact on the usability of the bathroom for me.

First up was the toilet seat. My old toilet seat was a bit on the junky side and one of the plastic washers that helped keep it in place had developed a crack. As a result the seat would wobble a little bit every time that I would sit down on it. Even though it wasn't the end of the world it sure was really annoying.

I thought about just replacing the broken plastic washer, but then I found a nice inexpensive toilet seat at Lowe's that sure beat out my old cheap plastic one so I decided to replace it. The new seat is molded wood in white with chrome mounting hardware. It is definitely a much needed upgrade.

Replacing the toilet seat took just about five minutes. I removed the old seat, screwed on the hardware, put the seat in place and then tightened everything down. I can't believe I hadn't done this earlier. No more wobbles for me!

In addition to taking care of my toilet seat problem, I also found a solution for my toilet paper. There isn't much space on the wall around the toilet for a wall mounted toilet paper holder due to the door and my built in cabinet. On top of that I didn't want to put mounting holes in the bead board on my bathroom walls. As a result I've gone without a toilet paper holder and just set a roll on the top of the tank until now.

On a recent trip to HomeGoods I spotted an inexpensive chrome toilet paper holder that was free standing. The look matched well with the other chrome hardware in my bathroom so I brought it home to try it out. Because it is free standing I can angle it and it fits perfectly next to the toilet. Toilet paper holder problem solved!

Have you done any small upgrades around your home recently? What little things have you done that made a big impact for you?


Spray Paint Makeover & Japanese Pottery Fun in Seto

I've been trying to find just the right thing to put on the back of my toilet in my bathroom since it looks a little empty and plain. When I spotted this little chalice for two dollars at the Ann Arbor Reuse Center I knew it was a diamond in the rough.

The gold paint with the speckled red finish on the interior was absolutely hideous, but it had a cute shape and with a few coats of teal spray paint it was the perfect vessel to house a few shells and sit on the back of my toilet. I never stop being amazed at the power of a little spray paint. 

As a fun aside, I made the little bowl sitting next to the chalice when I was living in Japan. Not too far away from where I lived is a small town called, Seto, which has been famous for its pottery for centuries. In fact the generic word for ceramics in Japanese is setomono (瀬戸物) which literally means Seto objects. I signed up with my friend, Trisha, to go to one of the pottery studios, Kasen, to learn about traditional pottery in Seto and try our hand at making some of our own pieces.  

The owner of the studio, Hiroshige Kato, is a twelfth generation potter using clay from the same place as his forefathers 400 years ago. He showed us the spot where he digs for clay as well as how his kilns work and the traditional glazes used in Seto.

Back inside the studio Kato-sensei taught us how to knead the clay and then form bowls and plates on the potter's wheel. After the introduction we had an hour to play around making our on creations. Trisha was a little overly ambitious on the wheel and when her clay got a little off center had a few bowl collapses. She decided to keep one of her collapsed pieces anyway deeming it art and as a result Kato-sensei started calling her "Special Artist." Trisha decided the nickname was a badge of honor and we had lots of fun joking about it.

The whole experience was an awesome time and a really great deal, too. The cost was ¥2000 (about $20 at the time) for the class and then ¥500 (about $5 at the time) for each piece that you decided you wanted to have fired. In the end I decided to have seven of my bowls fired and picked out different glazes for them. After a few weeks the bowls were available to pick up at the studio. I love having my pieces around my home because in addition to being pretty they remind of the fun time Trisha and I had making them.

If you ever find yourself in Aichi prefecture in Japan I would highly recommend arranging to take a class at Kasen. The price structure is a little different than when I did it and the exchange rate has also changed, but it is still very reasonable and it is a really great chance to have a hands on experience making Japanese pottery.

Have you recently spray painted anything totransform it? Have you ever tried your hand at throwing pots? Did it turn out well or did you make some "Special Artist" pieces? 


Resolution Recap: February 2012

I'm just two months into my 2012 New Year's resolutions of purging and organizing my home and finishing up projects around the house. I have made some good progress in February and am feeling happy about how things are going even though it is still early on.

Having my blog has been a really good motivator for me and done a lot to help keep me on track with things. After I've publicly written that I am going to do something it makes me feel accountable to follow through and actually get it accomplished. Without further ado, here is a recap of how I fared with my resolutions in February.

Resolution 1: Purge & Organize
For three out of four Mondays in February I met my goal of having a volume of at least one trash cart (between my recycling and regular trash) out on the curb on garbage pick-up morning. Here's my breakdown:

- February 6: 3/4 full trash + 1/2 full recycle = 1-1/4 total
- February 13: 1/4 full trash + 1/2 full recycle = 1 total
- February 20: Full trash + 3/4 recycle = 1-3/4 total
- February 27: 1/2 full trash = 1/2 total

Although I faltered this past week I am still happy with what I've been able to get rid of this month. Hopefully I'll do better next month.

On the organization front I front I got my fabric in my craft room organized using things I already had. In my kitchen I found some additional storage jars to get more of my dry goods in order. Also, while I was working on my bathroom I got everything organized in my built-in and new medicine cabinet.

Resolution 2: Finish Up Projects
A month after starting work on finishing up my master bathroom I got everything done and it feels wonderful. Here's what I did to complete the room:

- Paint the outside of the tub teal: Done!
- Replace the cheap, temporary mirror with a medicine cabinet: Done!
- Add shelving to the inside of the built-in cabinet: Done!
- Jazz up the built-in with some color: Done! (Plus it is now organized)
- Make a wood vent cover to go over the ceiling fan: Done!
- Make a rug to go in front of the bathtub: Done! 
- Add some wall art and do some paint touch-ups: Done! (wall mirror + framed Japanese bath salts)
- Build a shower stool: Done! 

I'm really excited about having my bathroom completely finished and organized. I have a couple things that I want to do in my kitchen and then I think that the next room that I'll tackle is one of my first floor back bedrooms that I want to make into a study for myself.

Is anyone else trying to keep New Year's Resolutions? What are they and how are you doing on them?  I'd love to hear what you are doing to keep motivated.


The Original State of my Master Bathroom

Since I have finally completed all the finishing touches on my bathroom I thought that I would share a little bit about where I started back when I bought the house in Fall 2007. Unfortunately, due to a hard drive crash that happened when I was in Japan I only have a few pictures from when I first bought my house and started remodeling.

The picture below on the left is of the room that I turned into my bathroom. The plaster on the walls and ceiling were crumbling and the hardwood floor was covered with a funky linoleum. I actually kind of like the pattern on the linoleum but it was cracked, dirty and in no way salvageable. There was a light fixture but no electrical outlets in the room. Judging by some remnants of plumbing sticking out of the wall and some teacup wallpaper in the adjoining closet it appeared that the room had been used as a kitchen at some point. At 10' x 10' it was a nice size room and the linoleum had kept the hardwood floor underneath in good condition.

On the right side is a picture of the old upstairs bath in my house. It was a really strange set up. In the back of the upstairs there was a 13' x 13' room and the previous owners had partitioned off 5' x 8' to make this bathroom leaving a strange L-shape space leftover that was unfinished. Very bizarre! I ended up salvaging the tub to use in the bathroom I was making in the next room over and then gutting everything else to make myself a nice sized craft room out of the whole 13' x 13' space.

It's fun to look back and see just how far my house has come. As I mentioned before when talking about my house's curb appeal, the inside of my house was downright scary. I think it would have made a really great set for a 1970s horror film. I put a lot of thought and effort into making a good floor plan and dreaming of the possibilities for the space. It feels so great to have one room in my house exactly the way I want it and all that hard work has definitely been worth it. Now I need to use this momentum to tackle another room!

If you are interested, check out the rest of my bathroom posts here: Bathroom Blog Posts


DIY Bathroom Fan Vent Cover

Today I am so excited to share that I finished up my last project in my bathroom: making a vent cover for my bathroom fan. The plastic cover that came with the fan looked cheap and flimsy and really didn't fit in with the vintage style of my bathroom. I searched around to try and find something else that would work but was unsuccessful so I decided that I needed to make something myself.  

To make the vent cover I found some wood trim 3/8" thick and about 1-1/4" wide with slightly a slightly rounded edge to make the frame. I thought about using some craft wood to make a wood lattice but when I saw this metal with perforated holes resembling a caning pattern I knew it would be perfect.

I mitered the corners of the wood trim, used wood glue to assemble it and then clamped it while it was drying. After the glue was set I cut a piece of the metal with some tin snips and then used 1/4" cut tacks to nail the metal to the back of the frame. After a coat of spray paint primer and two coats of my ceiling paint I hung the cover over my opening.

Having the gaping hole in my bathroom ceiling finally covered up makes me really happy and I am so glad that my bathroom is finally finished up. My goal was to complete everything in a month and by doing a little bit everyday I did it. After I get everything cleaned up I'll post some pictures of the whole room.

Has anyone else finished up a big project recently? Are you in the midst of doing some fun things around the house? I'd love to hear what you are up to to get me motivated for my next project.

If you are interested, check out the rest of my bathroom posts here: Bathroom Blog Posts


Refinishing My Bathtub

My last big task to finish in my bathroom was refinishing the outside of my old cast iron bathtub. The porcelain inside was in great condition but the outside was another matter. From afar it didn't look terrible but the paint was peeling a bit and the pale yellow color didn't match the bathroom's color scheme.

I looked up a bunch of things online about refinishing the outside of a bathtub and set to work. I covered the floor around the tub and used a stripper approved for indoor use to start removing the layers of paint. I had no idea how much paint was built up on the tub. Cream, yellow, green, peach... Just about any pastel color you could think of had graced the tub at one time or another. I kept applying stripper, waited for it to do its magic and then scrapped off yet another layer of paint. After I had most of the paint off I used my sander to get a smooth surface on the tub.

I was so excited when it was finally time to paint. After putting a coat of it on, however, I knew it was all wrong. The color was too bright and too blue to work well with my wall color. Frustrated, I headed to Lowe's with a sample of the wall color and of my original tub color choice to pick out something else. I found a color that was a bit more green hued and duskier, bought a quart in semi-gloss and returned home to try again.

Immediately I knew the second color was the perfect choice. After two coats I was really happy and eagerly pulled up the paper around the tub to clean up. Unfortunately, some of the stripper had dripped and soaked through the paper causing the finish on my floor to bubble up in a few places. I felt sick and couldn't believe that I had done this. I used a fine grit sandpaper to sand it off so you can't really see it anymore. I'm not sure if I should refinish my floor or if there is anything else I can do. If I do refinish it I'll wait until it gets warmer so I can have the windows open for ventilation. What would you do? Have you ever done anything like this? Do you have any suggestions about what I should do?

Anyway, apart from my floor mishap, I love how the tub turned out. It looks fresh and new and it ties into the rest of the bathroom so much better now. I just need to make my ceiling fan vent cover and I'll be all done with my bathroom to-do list.

If you are interested, check out the rest of my bathroom posts here: Bathroom Blog Posts


Japanese Bath Salt Wall Art

One of the things on my list to get done in my bathroom was to hang some wall art around my window. As I've mentioned before I love my Japanese bath salts and since I think the packaging designs on them are cool, I thought that framing a few of them would be fun.

I bought four inexpensive 11" x 14" frames from Meijer and picked out four bath salts that had packaging in blue/green/teal colors that worked well together and I liked. I made a slit on the back of each package, careful to make sure I didn't cut the front, and poured the bath salts into plastic sandwich bags to save for later. I'm definitely not one to waste bath salts!

I cut pieces of white watercolor paper to the size of the frame openings and used double stick tape to attach the bath salt packaging to the paper. After slipping the papers into the frames and hanging them on the wall my project was complete. You can't really see it in the pictures but the texture of the watercolor paper makes a nice contrast with the shiny bath salt packages. This was a super easy way to add some personal wall art to my bathroom and it makes me smile to see them hanging up.

If you are interested, check out the rest of my bathroom posts here: Bathroom Blog Posts