Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bathroom Tile - And Color Reveal!

The fun part first; Tiling is finished and we painted the bathroom blue!  We ordered a few samples of Earthborn Claypaint for the bathroom and ultimately went with Toy Soldier for a dark midnight blue color.  Which looks amazing and dramatic against the bright shinning tiles!
  Something I like about these specialty paint lines is actually the smaller color selection, so I can't be paralyzed by to much choice (today's theme).  That is not to say they don't have a good selection, its just way more manageable than the thousands of colors and shades to be found at certain big box stores.  I love this color, it came out beautifully rich and dark, it has a sumptuous, luxury feel to it.  
Toy soldier is the dark swatch on the left.
One of the negatives to long distance DIY is having to choose finishes I haven't actually seen or touched.  This is frustrating for both of us, for instance, it took me weeks to choose the wall tiles for the bathroom.  I felt the need to look at every possible tile option online, while trying to envision them in the space (talk about paralyzed by choice!)
Ultimately we went with these beautiful Winchester tiles, handmade in England, in a gorgeous white called Papyrus.  The tiles are actually a few different shades of white, and Nathan, our tiler did an beautiful job of mingling them so they appear totally random.  They are an extra long subway tile and we opted to use white grout as well.
Pisa tiles for the floors.
 In stark contrast to the difficulty I had in choosing the wall tiles, are the floor tiles.  Last June when we realized the floor would have to be tiled, Matt and I went together and looked at some options.  In about 20 minutes we picked three samples, brought them home, and in another 10 minutes, we had ordered our favorite, so easy.  
It was a huge relief, to both of us I think, to realize that we were on the same page and that all we needed was to be in the same place at the same time.  After all the delays, and dragging of feet on choosing finishes, this really put things into perspective. 
So the floors were leveled and installation began again, including the shower tray, finally!  Matt sent me lots of progress shots of this, it was an exciting time!  I have tried my hand at tiling on a much smaller scale than this and it still took several hours, I can only imagine that I would still be working on this if I'd taken it on myself.. tricky since I don't live there.  So glad we hired a professional, he did an amazing job.
 In the shower we decided to build in a little shelf/bench, this happened while I was away, but it came out just as I envisioned.  You can see the unfinished shelf here and the pipes before the tiles went up.  We had already grouted the other walls before tiling the shower, (delayed while waiting to install the shower tray, which was delayed by the flooring issues, a tangled web I know) so that by the time the herring bone wall went up we had already committed to white grout. 
Before grout.
I got a little worried about the white on white with the tile and grout.  Before grouting the pattern was in high contrast, afterwards its much more subtle.  I've decided I like it and it opened the way for us to do something really dramatic with the paint color, otherwise I probably would have stuck to "safe" colors, like grays and whites.   
After grout, everything shines like ice and the natural tiles reflect the light in a rippled textured pattern.  As the tiling neared completion, the room looked amazing, it feels so high end, so luxurious.  I can't wait to get in there with a candle and a plant and call it done.      
Gorgeous right?  And a huge space!  There were some side effects to all this luxury though.  Remember the story of When you Give a Mouse a Cookie?  Well when this mouse saw the beautiful tile it made other parts of the room look worse in comparison.  Most notably the trim, which we had to strip, clean, and repaint.  It also lights a fire under me to bring the rest of the house up to par.
Next time, Fixtures!
-Nikki 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bathroom Blues - Delivery Drama

So while the Bathroom Floorboard Mistake was going on last June, we also had some delivery and installation drama. 
All of the beautiful new bathroom fixtures (except the vanity and sink) were delivered together in this neat, not so little, package.  This thing was about 6 feet tall and had every little piece boxed up and in the tub.  
We took the packaging apart and got all the small stuff inside.  The tub was difficult as Matt and I had to bring it into the house on end and then up our tight turning stairs.  We almost didn't make it, with all three of us; Matt, the tub, and I, suffering a few scrapes and bumps.  In the end though, success!  The tub is upstairs! It came with gorgeous chrome claw feet too which you don't get to see until the final reveal.  
The real drama of the delivery was the HUGE glass shower screen, this thing was not going up the stairs, it was to big by several inches.  Oops.  I'm actually quite proud of how we solved this one though....
After we realized that there was no way we could get that piece of glass up the stairs on our own we had a moment of panic (Maybe more than a moment.)  I started calling moving companies who claimed to do sofas, pianos, etc through upstairs windows.  By this point it was rather late on a Friday evening, and we were feeling really stressed and dejected, so when I got a hold of Sofa Assist it was a huge relief. 
 
Sofa Assist came out and expertly dismantled the window, lifted the panel through, and fixed the window.  In fact that window didn't work properly before, now its perfect. The huge shower panel lived in (what will be) my studio for a few weeks before being installed.  
The installation delay was directly related to the shower tray drama.  The tray couldn't be installed because the floors weren't level (this contributed to us scrapping the floorboards and going for tile), plus the pluming had to be finished.  
By pluming I mean the pipes had to be fit into the wall, a plaster and brick wall shared with our neighbor.  She was very sweet about it, but I suspect it is difficult to live next to a renovation when they spend all day hammering into the wall.
Now though the pipes are fitted, the installation is done and the tiler has been able to get in and finish the walls and floors, Spoiler Alert: it looks amazing.
That same week, we ordered the sink and vanity unit from Ikea (see below.)  I usually love Ikea, but in this case Matt had to jump through a lot of hoops for this sink.  I think my advice would be: If you can't see it and take it home day-of from Ikea, don't bother attempting a delivery. 
IKEA HEMNES/RÄTTVIKEN wash-stand with 2 drawers
IKEA HEMNES/RÄTTVIKEN wash-stand with 2 drawersIt is gorgeous though, a big porcelain top, chrome faucet to match the others and loads of storage in the big drawers.  Stay tuned for the tile and wall color reveal!
-Nikki


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bathroom Blues - Wooden Floor Woes

If it seems like it has been a while since I last posted that is true and directly related to my process of grieving and getting over my failure with the bathroom floors.  I didn't want to discuss it until everything was beautiful and finished..HA.  In case you've forgotten where we started...

Let me preface this by saying that I originally wanted tile on the floors but was woo'd by the desire to preserve as much original character of the house as possible.  Matt really liked the look of the wooden floorboards in bathrooms and eventually won me over (with reservations.)   We went round in circles about water getting under the boards and the poor condition of the boards, but forged ahead anyway.  (I really need to start trusting my gut on these things.)  The plan was to bring some light into the dingy space, I effectively wanted to clean and white wash the boards and go for a sort of Scandinavian-vibe.
Last June, Before and after sanding.
The boards had been stained, painted and heavily damaged over the years.  Seriously, we had some horrid, messed up floor issues.  Woodworm, nails, cracks, unevenness, and more.  This is one of the most telling photos.. some of the worst woodworm damage...
I used Osmo wood filler as an attempt to even things out.   The product itself I like, application is easy and it works as expected, but I think the boards were too far gone. 
Even a liberal application of wood filler didn't seem to help (though I told myself it did), and potentially made the situation even worse, by high-lighting the "character" as we called it.  We were rushed, trying to finish in only a week, but I think I could have spent a month on those floors and still not been happy.  So even though we weren't ready, we moved on to the next step.. long distance diy projects (and relationships) sometimes have a time crunch, deal with it. 
The Osmo oil is fantastic, but it can't work miracles.  Nothing wrong with the product, just our horrible floorboards.  We used a white tinted, water resistant oil recommended for floors.    
Working late into the night... I'm not holding a phone to my ear... You can also see the unfinished shower area.. the real bane of my life as all this was going on last June, during a heat wave.  I think shortly after this the love of my life went out and found pizza and a bottle of wine. 
Over two evenings I painstakingly painted on two coats of the white tinted Osmo oil and a final protective clear sealant.  Look at that gap... come on past me.. you were never going to accept that! This was the result. 
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I tried to love it.  I really did. I never would have admitted I didn't if Matt didn't finally say he didn't really like it.  Then it all came pouring out, I hated them.  They were still rough to the touch, uneven, the color was ok but not what I'd envisioned.  We probably would have been better off just painting them a high gloss white, because I hated these floorboards at this point.  
So then he said the magic words.. "lets go look at floor tile tomorrow" Is there any mystery as to why I love him?
Here is a final before and after of all the work that went in.. top is the unfinished hallway, bottom is the bathroom.  A major difference, too bad it was wasted effort... still I'm glad we tried.  Otherwise we would have always had a nagging feeling that the wood may have been a beautiful and cost saving style.  
While all this was going on, the tiler was working on the walls and we had a major curve ball with the actual bathroom fixtures delivery, tune in next week for that minor catastrophe.

-Nikki


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sealing the floors.

For background on the floors start here, we used a beautiful Aged Heritage Limestone. 
On my last visit the floor installation was finished but not yet sealed.  A lot of time and money had gone into building a vapor permeable floor and sub-floor, which should prevent issues with rising damp.  Naturally, a lot of anxiety went into choosing the right finish to protect the floors while maintaining their vapor permeable properties.    
We cleaned them several times, before applying (by hand) a special vapor-permeable 'damp-look' stone floor sealant called Prevosil. 
Prepping and sealing the floors was a labor of love, I felt like Cinderella on hands and knees scrubbing that floor, worth it though in the end.  There was a rare heatwave during my visit and I have to say I took full advantage of the cool stones, laying on the floor to cool off (it wasn't as weird as it sounds I promise).  Speaking of heat, get a load of the gorgeous cast iron radiator Matt ordered!
Once finished we tried out some rugs!  Both were vintage finds from eBay or Gumtree.  Completely in love with both for very different reasons.  Also on display is our fancy new chair!  
Matt has gotten very good at assembling my Ikea whims..
I'm considering this rug to be one of my better Friday Finds.  I experimented with cleaning it, using diluted dish soap and the garden hose, and learned two things.  First: Rugs are extremely heavy when wet, and Second: wool smells awful when wet.  Luckily it dried well and did come out cleaner. 

See you next week when I'll be back in Tewkesbury!
-Nikki


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Woody

I know its a silly post for August but, just look at this lovely wood burner, hand made in Wales by the Chilli Pengiun company.  They are super efficient, have a sleek modern look, come in a range of sizes and colors, and there is even one with a little pizza oven!  
This style?  Its called the Woody.
  Plus those flagstones going back into the fireplace and the excision of that hideous and dangerous old hearth stone?  A total flooring coo.
The floors are finished and sealed, post coming soon about our living room and rugs!
<3 Nikki







Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Finds - 1970's Floor Lamp!

Today I want to show off two vintage lamps found a few weeks apart from the same source down by the Maryland Shore.  And I want to pat myself on the back for spotting them and jumping on the opportunity.  I love them so much, the structural, architectural quality is very striking to me. 
I realized they would need to be rewired and refinished completely.  Luckily my dad was just as excited about the find and has been leading the charge on cleaning them up.  
The first lamp is an over sized (taller than me) angle-poise style, this a gold finish, which Toby is helping to model.  It is missing a base and has lots of rust spots.  Both lamps had been stored outside so this is not unexpected.  The anglepoise won't be finished until after it is moved to the UK and rewired correctly.  I'd love to finish it in a copper like this...
Copper Angled Floor Lamp
but in my experience I struggle to achieve the finish I want with metallic spray paints, so I will probably go with a glossy black instead.  
Speaking of a glossy black finish, meet our second vintage lamp, the club lamp,from the 1970's (we think).  It has four arcing lamp arms and a dimmer switch, plus a very heavy base, shaped to fit under a sofa.  

The club lamp was in pretty poor condition, with a lot of rust spots and I disliked the original color (mottled gold, black, and red) so we choose to strip it and refinish.  Some people may see it as sacrilege to have stripped the original finish but it's done now so please keep that to yourself.  When you find your own vintage lamp you can do what you like with it.  Besides in this case it was gross and not for resale, so its only value to me was in how it could fit into our new contemporary space.  
Dad used a mix of chemical paint stripper and sandpaper.  He protected the white enameled surface inside of the shades with tape.  From there it was just about finding the right color with spray paint.  We used a primer to prep the lamp for paint.    
My first instinct was to try a pop of mint green, but unfortunately we hated how it came out.  I think the club lamp looks much more classic in black and it looks great at its new home in Ocean City, MD.  
The perfect reading corner!  Best part is the cost, both lamps came from the same salvage place down on the Easternshore and were less than $50 together.    
 Plus we found it very cool to breath new life into a vintage piece like this.

-Nikki

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stone floors!

The downstairs floors have been re-done and they are looking very lovely.  Under the linoleum we had an uneven concrete slab and quarry tiles, all of which was sitting on dirt and rubble.
Matt had to do a lot of digging out to safely remove all the bad old stuff and prepare for laying in the new sub-floor.  
They dug down to dirt, literally, that is a dirt floor in the kitchen, and living room.. and dining room... But soon enough things started going back in to construct the new sub-floor.
The new sub-floor consists of layers of foam glass insulation with limecrete on top meant to be vapor permeable.  It was fun for me to see these progress shots each evening.. especially because I wasn't living in it.
The whole process took them several days, but resulted in a gorgeously level new floor which should also help stop the rising damp from destroying our plaster walls, because at the same time as all this flooring fun...
...Most of the downstairs plaster was being redone.  To deal with that same rising damp issue, the bottom half of the walls had to be demo'd and re-plastered. I was very glad to not be around for all this, I know the disorder would have made me go a little mad.
The stone for the new floors is an Aged-Heritage-Limestone and before deciding we looked at several other samples.  Naturally I spent an entire afternoon moving the samples around to different rooms to see how they would look.  Below you can see my three samples, the linoleum we started with, as well as the ugly hearth stone, and the partially hidden mess that is the old cracked tile under the old wood burner.
I had this vision of bright whites/ivories everywhere in the house, but in the end I was won over by the ripples and texture of the gray limestone.  They look something like river stones and what I really like is the fact that they are common around Tewksbury.  Once I started looking I saw the texture and color used in several other old buildings and on some of the sidewalks!  
We are still trying to decide how to seal it though, the options are a 'wet-look' or a 'dry-look'.  Above it is dry (very natural, maybe a dusted look to it) and below is right after mopping (slightly glossy, shiny).  Which would you choose?
If you compare this photo of the finished stone floor in the kitchen to the earlier process photos of the same space you can really see how far we've come!
Now the downstairs is nearly finished structurally and a post on the kitchen is coming soon.  Walls have been whitewashed, the furniture moved back into the space, and I've been obsessing over rugs.  Now, final flooring thought this week, check out my new Kilim area rug!
Thank you Ebay for existing!  This is a colorful over-sized beauty from the 1940's all the way from Istanbul and I am so in love.  It currently is living with me in Maryland, but I can't wait to see it against those stones in the cottage! One side is very faded for a more muted look and the other is still incredibly vibrant.

- Nikki