Tuesday, July 16, 2013

House tour - home office

Our home office has been a work in progress since we moved in.  Originally we had a small writing desk, which is now in our guest room.  It worked temporarily, but we knew that we needed to get something bigger.  

If you've recently shopped for furniture, you'll know that today's furniture is not nearly as well built as the furniture of the past.  I had been scouring Craigslist for solid wood desks, and even briefly considered buying a desk from Ballard Designs or Ikea to tide us over until we decided what would really work well for this room.  

As it turns out, our office is a difficult room to work with when it comes to arranging furniture.  We have French doors on one side of the room, windows on the second and a bench seat on the third.  The only solid wall is adjacent to the French doors, which made it difficult when it came time to arrange a functional office.  

Let's take a look, shall we?

Home office French doors - 6 panel tempered glass

Home office French doors.  Polished chrome schoolhouse light by World Imports.  Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter on the walls, Sherwin Williams Alabaster on the millwork.
It's no secret that I love hand me down pieces and family heirlooms.  When my aunt moved to Seattle from Arizona, she brought a slew of pieces that she and my uncle had collected during their life together.  This small chest was built by my uncle's uncle.  The detailing is incredible and it sits on 4 very old casters.  It fits perfectly in the small corner behind the French door, and reminds me of two of my favorite people.
Antique stamp chest

Antique stamp chest
Like I mentioned, I had been searching for a desk that would make the office a more functional space.  I came up dry when I looked on Craigslist, couldn't quite cough up the $1,300 for a zinc top Ballard Designs desk and didn't feel like an Ikea desk would pass the test of time.

Since my Dad has recently retired, we've been having all sorts of fun.  He mentioned that a local Seattle area auction company was auctioning off the remaining items in an import furniture store.  I had been looking for an outdoor teak patio table, and the auction listing showed that they had 6 tables up on auction.  When we arrived at the auction, my Dad brought my attention to a solid wood desk, sitting in the corner.  He mentioned that I might want to bid on it, as it looked like a solid piece.

We ended up waiting for about 4 hours so that I could bid on the desk.  I had called my husband prior to bidding to set a maximum price. We decided that $750 would be the maximum, given that we'd have to rent a U-Haul to get it home and we might need to touch it up or paint it entirely

The desk went up for bidding, and with my hands shaking, I raised #145 and placed a bid of $100.  If you've ever been to an auction, you know that the auctioneers talk fast.  Quite honestly, I think they're incomprehensible.  As I held my number up I said to myself "I don't even know what he's saying."  I focused intently on reading his lips and kept my fingers crossed.  In the end, I got this H. Krug solid wood desk for:


After getting it home and carrying it inside (for the record, it took 4 adults for it to carry it inside), we wiped out the drawers, vacuumed out the back recesses and put it together.  I e-mailed Krug to ask if they could give me any clues as to when the desk was built.  Based on the sticker on the bottom of the center drawer and the wood itself, the people at Krug thought that the desk was about 35 years old.  Krug started making casegoods in the 1970's, so we know it wasn't fabricated prior to the 1970's.  

$100 H. Krug auction desk - made of solid wood

H. Krug antique desk

H. Krug antique desk

H. Krug antique desk hardware
Standing in the doorway, looking into the home office
One of the things that we did to utilize space in the office was have our cabinet maker install built in filing cabinets with a bench seat, under the large window.  Eventually I'd like to make an upholstered cushion for the bench seat, although we're currently housing the printer on the bench seat.  Since the printer is wireless, we will likely move it into the basement.  
Built in filing cabinets and bench
Built in filing cabinets and bench
Looking into the foyer from the desk
The view from the office front window - looking on to the front porch

Saturday, July 6, 2013

House tour - master bath

Our master bath is one of my favorite rooms in the house.  It's a bright, functional space that blends just the right amount of formality with rustic and coastal charm.  

When we designed our master bath, we knew that we wanted to put in a shower with a bench.  Our architect told us that we would be stupid not to (shout out to our awesome architect, if you're reading this!) and he was right.  It's been really nice to have a bench to put my legs on while shaving, and I've also spent a few minutes sitting on it after a long day at work.  The only thing that I would change about the bench, is I would consider lowering it by an inch or two.  Carrara marble is slippery when wet, and if you work 12 hour shifts in a very busy emergency room and come home exhausted, you might find yourself sliding off of said bench if you're not paying attention.  By lowering the bench just an inch or so, I could more comfortably put my feet on the ground.

The tile that we used for our master shower is a 4x12" gloss white subway tile by Pental.  We used Laticrete's Bright White epoxy grout, which I've been pleased with so far.  The tile wipes clean with a damp sponge and the epoxy grout has required minimal scrubbing.  I've even stained the grout with a very pigmented purple shampoo, and it's scrubbed clean with a gentle cleaner and a bit of elbow grease.  

Our master shower also has a built in shampoo shelf, and two shower heads - one is mounted to the wall and the other is in the ceiling.  We have the Kohler Flipside mounted on an adjustable bar, on the wall.  So far I have no complaints about the Kohler Flipside.  It has plenty of settings to choose from, and has excellent water pressure.  I also love having the detachable head so that I can rinse shave gel off of my legs and rinse cleaning solution from all 4 walls when I'm scrubbing the shower.  

The fixture that you see in the ceiling is a rain shower head by Kohler.  This has also been a great fixture, with excellent water pressure - enough pressure to rinse out shampoo and conditioner with ease.  We installed a diverter valve so that we can have either one or both shower heads functioning at the same time.  

Pental 4x12" glossy subway tiles with Kohler Flipside and Kohler rain head showers.  Carrara marble slab bench and tub deck.
Pental 4x12" gloss white subway tile with Laticrete Spectralock Bright White grout, Carrara marble bench.

You might remember when I professed my love for our master tub.  I still adore our Maax Slimline Oval tub and the Kohler Bancroft tub faucet and hand shower.  No complaints or regrets with either of these products.
Maax Slimline Oval tub with Kohler Bancroft tub faucet and hand shower

Built in bookshelves adjacent to the master bath.  Carrara marble slab tub deck, Maax Slimline Oval tub and Kohler Bancroft tub faucet and hand shower.
Our master bath flooring is my favorite flooring in the house - made by sTile, this is a porcelain floor that is meant to look like wood.  I can honestly say that I adore the sTile Tabula Moka flooring, and we get more compliments on it than any other flooring in the house.  When the tile guys installed the Laticrete Light Pewter expoxy grout, I had a bit of a freakout moment.  I think I had envisioned the grout blending in a bit more with the tile, but our designer assured me that a contrast between the tile and grout was a good thing.  Now that we've been living with the tile/grout combination for about 4 months, I've come to love the look.

The sTile Tabula Moka floor is a dream to clean.  I use a dry Swiffer to sweep debris to the crumb sweeper* and then use a wet Swiffer to clean up the rest.  One of the best things about this flooring is that it hides dirt and hair (two of the things that I hate the most in bathrooms).
sTile Tabula Moka flooring with Laticrete Spectralock grout in Light Pewter.  Walls are Benjamin Moore 1551 La Paloma Gray.
Another part of the bathroom that I love is the dual vanity.  We carried the same Carrara marble slab on to the vanity top, and used a simple undermount sink by Kohler.  The faucets are the Kohler Bancroft monoblock lavatory faucet with ceramic handles.  I love the formality of the marble, contrasted with the old world monoblock faucet.  The blacksplash is a simple 3x6" matte subway tile by Pental, which was leftover from the kitchen.
Carrara marble vanity slab, Kohler undermount sink, Kohler Bancroft monoblock lavatory faucet, 3x6" matte subway tile by Pental with Laticrete Spectralock epoxy grout in Bright White.  Benjamin Moore 1551 La Paloma Gray on the walls.

Benjamin Moore 1551 La Paloma Gray with Pental 3x6" matte white subway tile and Carrara marble slab vanity top
 Despite the protests from our builder, cabinet maker and finish carpenter, one of the best decisions that I made was to install a medicine hutch on top of the dual vanity in the master bath.  I like to call it "Separation of church and state."  Not only does this hutch give us an enormous amount of storage, but is also keeps my side separate from my husband's.  I don't want to look at his toothpaste splatter on the mirror, and this hutch is the perfect divider.  For the record: I love him, but I do not love toothpaste splatter on the mirror.

You may notice a little notch/panel at the very bottom of the cabinetry in the center.  That's the crumb sweeper*.
Dual master bath vanity.  Cabinets are painted Sherwin Williams Alabaster, cabinet knobs and pulls from Overstock, Carrara marble slab top, Kohler Bancroft monoblock lavatory faucets with ceramic handles, 3x6" matte white subway tile backsplash by Pental with Laticrete Spectralock grout in Bright White.
*Shout out to Dr. D.C.!  If you're reading this, thank you for your suggestion to put a crumb sweeper in the bathroom.  Brilliant!  I think of you every time I use it.  Is that weird...?

Friday, July 5, 2013

House tour - main bath

 One of my favorite rooms in the house is our main bath.  It's one of the only rooms in the home that doesn't have a painted white cabinet or Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter on the wall.

For this room, we wanted to do something different, so we stained the cabinets a Sherwin Williams Burnished Walnut to pop against the matte white floor tile, which is Octagon and Dot by Daltile.  You might notice a white plate against the base of the cabinets.  That's the crumb sweeper that we had built into our cabinets.  Instead of sweeping up dirt, lint and hair, we just sweep it towards the crumb sweeper, turn it on with our foot and off it goes!  All of our central vac debris is sent directly to the garage where it's stored in a large canister until we empty it (about every 3-4 months).

The Sherwin Williams Burnished Walnut stained cabinets are accessorized with simple nickel pulls that I ordered from Overstock.  The cup pulls feel sturdy and smooth and add a masculine accent to the bathroom, which serves as a boys and guest bathroom.

Originally I had asked the cabinet maker to build the cabinets to top off at 32", which would allow us to place the 3cm quartz on top of the 32" platform.  In a series of many errors, the cabinet bases were dropped off at 30" and installed right to the subfloor.  After installation of the quartz countertops, the finished height is about 32", which is about 2" below where I wanted them to be.

Our counters are Pental quartz, 3cm Seashell Polished with a simple 3x6" matte white subway tile backsplash.  Flooring is Daltile Octagon and Dot in matte white with Bright White Laticrete Spectralock grout.  While I do like the white on white flooring, I'm not sure that I would use white grout again.  I've been seeing lots of pictures of white geometric tiles with gray grout, and I think that's the direction I'd go if I was going to spec this bathroom again.

Undermount sinks by Kohler.  Faucets by Kohler from the Bancroft series.

Daltile Octagon and Dot flooring, Sherwin Williams Burnished Walnut cabinets, Pental Seashell Polished quartz counters and Kohler undermount sink with Kohler Bancroft faucets.  Benjamin Moore HC-142 Stratton Blue on the walls.

Pental Seashell Polished quartz counters with 3x6" matte subway tile backsplash, Kohler undermount sink and Kohler Bancroft widespread faucet with ceramic handles.  Benjamin Moore HC-142 Stratton Blue on the walls.
Grouping of 3 coastal art pieces from IKEA on the wall opposing the bathroom sinks.  Benjamin Moore HC-142 Stratton Blue on the wall
 One of the design elements that we wanted to utilize in our main bath was a pocket door.  We used a pocket door to separate the water closet/shower space from the sinks.  That way if we were hosting guests, the bathroom was a bit more private for multiple people to use it at one time.
5 piece pocket door with polished chrome hardware
During our electrical trim out, the plumbers graciously reminded me that I had forgotten to order ceiling lights for a few rooms, the bathroom being one of them.  I remembered that I had seen a cute acorn style light at Home Depot, which mirrored the style of our Rejuvenation foyer light.  At approximately $35, it was a great option and a quick solution!
Acorn light from Home Depot, approximately $35.  Benjamin Moore HC-142 Stratton Blue on the walls
 One of the problems that we ran into with this room was the placement of the wall housing the pocket door.  We should have moved it over and decreased the overall size of our countertops.  But since it's a little late the correct that now, the easiest way for us to buy some elbow room was to put a freestanding toilet paper holder on the floor.
Freestanding toilet paper holder, Benjamin Moore HC-142 Stratton Blue on the walls, white cotton waffle weave shower curtain by World Market, bath mat by West Elm.  Flooring is matte white Daltile Octagon and Dot.

One piece fiberglass shower with Kohler Bancroft shower faucet fixture.  Benjamin Moore HC-142 Stratton Blue on the walls

One piece fiberglass shower with Kohler Bancroft shower fixture.  Flooring is matte white Octagon and Dot tile by Daltile.  Cotton waffle weave shower curtain by World Market, bath mat by West Elm.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

House tour - mud room & powder room

One of the most functional rooms in our home is the mud room.  When we designed our house, we built the entire first floor around having a mud room.  It's a place to dump handbags, backpacks, coats and car keys.  I wanted the space to be functional and fun, with a utility sink.  We also put in a pocket door, in the event that we get a dog and need to block the space off from the main living area.

Another consideration when designing the first floor of our home was where to put the powder room.  We didn't want our guests to feel too close to the main living area when using the bathroom.  With that being said, we put the powder room adjacent to the mud room.  It feels private and since it sits on the south side of the house, we were able to put a window in the powder room to allow for some natural lighting.  Since the powder room shares a wall with the garage, we had our architect add a large linen closet.  Currently I'm storing my Swiffer and a few seasonal decorations as well as extra hand towels.

Stepping into the mud room from the garage.  Kentwood Originals Maple Del Rio flooring, Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter on the walls

Mud room bench, $36 at a flea market.  Rug by Dash & Albert, online flash sale.  Coat hooks, IKEA.

Mud room bench - one of my favorite pieces in the house! 
The door to the garage.  Knobs and back plate custom assembled by Schlage, polished chrome finish.

Pocket door, separating the mud room and main living area
 The work horse of our mudroom is the cabinets and counter.  We have all of our reusable bags and art supplies in the lower left doors.  Underneath the sink is where we keep our mop bucket and all of the cleaners for our hardwood floors.  The drawers just underneath the counter is where we keep our maps, keys and sunglasses.  The upper cabinets house our extra paper towels, cleaning supplies and baby wipes.  Costco baby wipes are one of my favorite cleaning products!  I use them on the millwork, countertops, the track of our sliding doors, virtually anywhere that requires a gentle cleaner.
Mud room cabinetry.  Kohler faucet and cast iron sink with Formica Sand Crystal counters.  Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter on the walls

Formica Sand Crystal countertops.

Powder room.  Pental Alpine quartz remnant used on the countertop with matte subway tile backsplash.   Faucet by Kohler, Bancroft series.

Powder room sink.  Kohler Bancroft lavatory faucet, Kohler undermount sink, Pental Alpine quartz counters with subway tile backsplash.

Linen closet in the powder room - custom knobs and back plate by Schlage, polished chrome finish.

 I wanted to take a minute to talk about floor registers.  Our contractor supplied us with two choices: tan or white.  Obviously neither of those color selections work with the hardwood flooring that we installed.  I scoured all of our local big box stores and came up empty.  Since I was working with a difficult size (2x10"), I took to searching online.  I was really excited to find these registers by A Touch of Brass.

Remember: when ordering your floor registers, the size that you purchase is that of the actual opening of the duct.  The actual register that you see on the floor is larger than 2x10".
Oil Rubbed Bronze floor register, by A Touch of Brass

Monday, June 10, 2013

House tour - piano room, updated for under $200

The piano room is my least favorite room of the house.  It's the room that has gotten the least attention and is really a hodge podge of random furnishings that we used to fill the room.  

Let's take a look at the before photos.  Since a new couch for this room wasn't in the budget, I had to work with just a few hundred dollars to update the room.  Sticking with the old, green couch, I wanted to add some coastal touches and make it an inviting space for people to sit and relax.  

Here's the old couch with some framed floral prints that I yanked off of an outdated calendar.  The rug is the thorn in my side, and comes from my husband's old bachelor pad apartment.  It just wasn't working for me.  The size was all wrong and the pattern lends itself to more of a funeral home decor.  Relaxing?  Maybe, if you're dead...
The old green couch with the old floral prints and the old bachelor rug

Our beautiful upright Steinway piano with the antique bow back chair from my parents' house

The old floral prints - worked in our last home, but screamingly outdated in this one

The bachelor rug, in all its glory
I had been scouring the bowels of the Internet, looking for some sort of modern rug to put in this room.  Like I mentioned, I wanted to spend less than $200 to update the room.  If you've ever been rug shopping, you know that it's nearly impossible to score a decent 5x8' rug for less than $200.

Enter Craigslist.

I randomly searched for "striped rug" and found a lady selling a brand new, still in the wrapping, 5x8' striped wool rug.  Apparently she had ordered the rug and the actual color wasn't quite what she was expecting.  Since she wasn't able to return it, she was selling it heavily discounted on Craigslist.  I hopped in the car, drove about 24 miles north and scored this great rug!  Total cost = $150.

Piano room with new rug - starting to look a bit more updated
I picked up a curtain rod at Lowe's for about $35 when I realized that I had some simple tie top curtain panels tucked away in the guest room.  I've always outsourced the curtain rod hanging to my husband, which he gripes about incessantly.  This time I decided to give it a whirl myself, and I think I did a pretty good job!
The updated piano room - Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter on the walls

The old green couch, striped rug and bow back chair
The top of the piano is mostly uncluttered with the exception of a small orchid and a set of candlesticks that my grandfather picked up during a Naval deployment.  Familial rumor has it that they're either from India or Africa (and yes, they're made of ivory).

The small frame that sits above our piano was a simple craft that I completed in our old house.  I typed out a portion of our wedding vows on printer paper, and then soaked the paper in a pan full of coffee.  Basically I stained the paper to look like parchment, giving it an antiqued look  A cheap and easy way to bring memories from the past to the present!
Coffee stained wedding vows, candlesticks and an orchid on top of the piano
 This bow back chair needs some love.  I thought that I might want to tackle recovering the cushion myself.  I even went to unzip the bottom cushion to see how I might be able to deconstruct it and the foam inside has crumbled.  Eventually I'm going to update this chair with a new cushion and some modern fabric, but that will have to wait for now.
Remember those horrendous floral prints that I snagged from an expired calendar?  They had to go.  I wanted to bring something fun and nautical into the room.  I found a great website that sells "pocket size" prints of most NOAA nautical charts and ordered a set of 3 to group on the wall: Chicago Harbor, Elliott Bay (Seattle waterfront) and Cleveland Harbor.  I thought it would be a nice way to bring our birthplaces and our current home on to one wall in the house.
Seattle Harbor nautical chart

Cleveland Harbor nautical chart

Chicago Harbor nautical chart
Tucked in the corner of the room is an antique that my aunt handed down to me.  It's a handmade end table, made by my great great ________ on my Mom's side.  It's not known whether it was a grandfather or an uncle as there were 10 children in that generation - 5 stayed in Sweden and 5 immigrated to the United States.  My brother has the Swedish Bibles that were housed in this great, little piece.  It's pieces like these that I absolutely love - the pieces that have a story behind them.  

Handmade Swedish side table - a family heirloom

As always, thanks for reading!  I'll be sure to come back with a few more tours: powder room and mud room are next.