Saturday, October 1, 2011

We're Famous!

Check out our bathroom on Andi's favorite website Apartment Therapy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Uptown Bathroom

Our bathroom renovation is done. I don't know how to express my relief. Last Sunday I saw friends for the first time in 5 weeks for reasons other than food delivery and showering at their apartment. 

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are the before, during, and after shots.

We finished the bathroom on schedule at the end of August. We have been putting the "finishing touches" on it for the past few weeks. The quotes around "finishing touches" are ironic and meant to convey that sometimes a "finishing touch" can take 2.5 hours to execute. Like caulking around the floor line. Or hanging the shower curtain supports, or cleaning up the construction staging space, better known as our guest room.

We love the bathroom. I feel like a billionairess every night when I brush my teeth and apply moisturizer under its warm and well-placed lights. I call it the Uptown Bathroom because it is so sophisticated and timeless and luxurious.  (Though timeless is a dangerous adjective. The last time I heard someone say "timeless," she was lamenting the wide-brimmed asymmetrical sunhat she wore with her wedding dress in 1986.)

It is hard for me to pinpoint what I like most in our bathroom. Here are some of the most adored elements:

The charcoal tub. I sanded the exterior of the original cast-iron tub with fine sandpaper and applied Rustoleum, a very smelly-but-simple priming product. The Rustoleum was followed by flat gray paint called Dakon Gray by Philip's Perfect Colors and a flat finish varnish by Pratt & Lambert. I painted the feet a silver and coated those with a varnish as well. We had the white interior of the tub professionally refinished by Miracle Method. That is not a DIY project--their process was identical to painting a car.

The double sink. Having two sinks is pretty awesome. We don't have to share and we each get a medicine cabinet. That is cause for a baseline "hooray!" 

I had been eyeing the sink on the Restoration Hardware website for over a year. At my mom's suggestion, Dean and I drove one hour to Vacaville, CA, and checked out the Restoration Hardware outlet. Bingo!

The outlet has amazing medicine cabinets, sinks and hardware for 30% of the sticker price. The Robern medicine cabinets that we bought for $200 each are practically worth their own blog entry. They are so well-constructed and well-designed. They do not compare to any other medicine cabinet I have ever seen. Well worth the money.

The concession was that we had to mix metals in our bathroom to get the outlet deals. All hardware above the sinks is Satin Nickel (lights, medicine cabinets, and faucets). All other hardware in the bathroom is Polished Chrome (towel rack, shower system, sink base, and exposed plumbing below sink).  I think it works for one reason--we have grouped the metals in regions in the room. There is not obvious contrast between the nickel and the chrome because they are never within two feet of one another. Many designers are mixing metallics in their designs nowadays. Even so, it was a risk but I am happy with the finished product.

We had our own marble fabricated from an outfit called Marble City in San Carlos. They specialize in 1.25 inch marble which is the thickness we needed for a sink base that only had a frame, not a solid surface on which the marble could rest. On the marble lot we choose a giant slab of uncut and unpolished marble called Blue Sky. It looked very white with a few gray and blue accents before it got polished up. Low and behold, when that marble was sealed and delivered it looked much more detailed and colorful, primarily blue with dark gray detail, like a stormy sky. We were lucky the colors worked well in our bathroom because the finish definitely surprised us. Lesson learned--marble is accentuated when polished.

The lighting is great. It is so smart to position lights in the bathroom at eye-level. It makes you look so pretty when light floods your face from a horizontal direction. Plus, you should horde light bulbs that will soon be illegal with a really warm tone. We recycled the overhead light from the old bathroom to make up for my environmental naughtiness with the warm light bulbs.

The Italian porcelain floor is great. The herringbone pattern turned out beautifully. The subway tile walls are also lovely and inexpensive. Doing all of the tiling ourselves was not so lovely, but I must admit it was inexpensive. Dean will tell you those tales but I will announce that 3 out of my 10 fingers were worked raw one Sunday from tiling. I had a painful time washing my hands with soap afterward.

We also splurged on a new shower system which is beautiful. It is from an outfit called Sunrise  in Oakland, CA. I definitely recommend it.

Dean and I are breaking from renovations to ski all winter and also get a puppy. I am already scheming about our kitchen renovation and have a file folder of "inspiration clippings" for the project. Dean refuses to look at the file folder.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Messy Progress

We had a grueling weekend of two 13 hour days.

Day 1: Drywall. Our friend and construction volunteer Chris May stuck around for all of Saturday, taking one break to redeem a Groupon at Lombardi's on Polk, then pressing onward until the wee hours of the night. Shimming drywall, cutting drywall, hanging drywall. It was brutal.   The guys look happy here because they are done with the job.

Dean and Chris in front of the impeccably hung drywall.
Day two: Floor Tile. Chris was the smart one for declining day two. Dean and I are not so lucky. We patched floors. We screwed down Hardy Board until my thumb needed a massage. We mixed mortar. We fiddled around with a rented wet saw and realized it was broken. We took it back to the rental place. We started tiling around 3 PM.

I laid the tile while Dean operated the wet saw. Around 11 PM our work really started to decline in quality and the neighbors politely asked us to stop cutting tile in the garage. Dean had to finish up in the morning and we both felt like we had been hit by a truck.

We are happy with the result though. We picked a modern Italian porcelain tile and laid it in a traditional pattern--herringbone. It is a stylistic microcosm of our bathroom, which will be a mix of traditional and modern. Dean is grouting the floor as I write this and we patched the drywall with joint compound last night.

We are steeling ourselves for the final weekend--tiling the walls and painting.  Then we get our shower back--the ultimate reward.

Our modern herringbone floor.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beginnings of a Bathroom

We have not quite finished our big summer project (house painting), but one should never rest on his laurels. Last weekend Dean and I demolished our bathroom. Our good friend Carter lent a hand. We cannot repay him with enough In and Out Burger—he was such a great help. Here is what happened in this order:

The bathroom before the demolition. The vinyl floor was curling and moldy, and the single sink was tucked
behind the bathtub, barely visible and too small for 2 people.

The bathroom on Friday evening, after the plumbers and electrician did their job.
  • Our fantastic plumbers came over and moved the cast iron tub out of the bathroom, so I can restore it in the guest room. It took three strong men to move it.
  • We tore out all the 100-year-old bead board that was globbed with paint and moldy in spots. It was two inches thick and made of Redwood. Much different than the bead board you buy at Home Depot today.
  • Dean and Carter framed a new ceiling, which will allow us to have a bathroom fan and vent the new fixtures.
  • We ripped out the linoleum floor and the vinyl floor underneath by chipping away at it with paint scrapers.
All of this happened in one day. It "freed up" Sunday for a big day at the San Francisco dump and Home Depot.
I made a childish calendar entitled “Dean and Andi’s 16 Days of Construction.” It helps us visualize how short but intense this bathroom renovation will be. It has been a good tool for retaining mental sanity already.
We do not have a shower and our friends have all been so kind to let us use their showers, and even feed us and give us a beer and some conversation after long days of construction. Thank you Jason & Colleen, Kyra, Andy, and Denis (and Chris & Susan this weekend)!
We are really excited about the finished product. It is something we have dreamed about since last July, when we wrote this blog. It is a good sign that 13 months later we choose the same bathtub, sink and cabinet that we dreamed about last July--maybe we will never grow tired of them.
We started on August 6 and are set to finish on August 22. More to come soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Painted Lady

Painters have been working on our building since May, giving it a much-needed new coat of paint. We changed the color scheme too--now the building is a blue gray "October Sky" and the accents are white, navy blue, burgundy, and a bunch of other blues. We have nine colors on the building in total, including a lot of real gold leaf on the woodwork.

Here’s what she looked like before:

On Monday the scaffolding came down. Here she is!  It was a long road to completion, but we are immensely happy with the finished product.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Let there be light!

In the 3 months "off" after finishing the powder room and office nook and before starting the main bathroom, Andi has been scouring our apartment for small "projects" for us to do. Because this is our "down-time". Luckily for her (and especially luckily for me), the chandelier in our back hallway needed some attention.

For months we have not had light in our back hallway. The old, cheap, knock-off of a Scandinavian-made chandelier gave out in our first week after moving in. Until recently, it swung from its old faux-brass chain like a pathetic, undecorated global piñata, filled with healthy and innocent things like lima beans, broccoli, and athletic socks, gently whacked a few times to ensure its contents would NOT spill all over the ground and spare all the "unlucky" children from obesity and athlete's foot. It needed to come down.

The back hallway the day we moved in.
While I clambered up our rickety 10-foot ladder and disassembled the chandelier, Andi spent time on her hobby: dissecting the internet for home improvement products. In this case, a new ceiling light. She found one at Rejuvenation – Classic American Lighting & House Parts. Since the back hallway chandelier does not have a wall-mounted light switch—it's activated only by a pull switch with a 6-foot long chain—and hardly anyone makes a ceiling light with a pull switch anymore, we placed a custom order to have our new pendant built with one.

Our choice: the Rose City

I'm not always confident in my construction abilities, even after all of the spectacular B- work I've completed on our house so far. I get a bit queasy when I think about playing in Benjamin Franklin's toy box, especially since I’ve been zapped with a sizeable amount of electricity once before in my life. Andi, as always, is supportive and helps me to see the brighter side of things. "You can do it," she encourages. "Besides, I don't want to pay an electrician $300 to do this work." VERY convincing.

After switching off the breaker for the hallway lights and verifying 3 times that it was actually off (once with my eyes and twice with my electrical test meter), I disconnected the existing chandelier. It was pretty easy. I was surprised.

I uncovered something interesting after disassembly: a long black pipe the jutted out of the plaster ceiling like a thick black whisker. Consequently, our HOA hired an electrician to tidy up the cables on the exterior of the house because it’s being painted and we want it to look pretty, so I showed him this pipe sticking out of our ceiling. He explained that when the apartment was switched from gas lamps to electricity, the contractor retrofitted the gas pipe to accept the new electrical lights by adding threading to the inside of the old gas pipe. “You better hope the gas line is not active,” he giggled as I chuckled nervously with him. It’s not. I checked.

While we waited for the new light to arrive, we headed to Home Depot to buy a ceiling medallion, a ceiling trim piece that served three purposes: 1) it’s a decorative element that is consistent with most of the other ceiling lighting in the apartment, 2) it covered the large hole that remained from the non-functioning hard-wired smoke detector that I removed from the chandelier base, and 3) it covered the phallic gas pipe.

About a week later, the new pendant light arrived. We unpacked it, fawned over its sleek curves and shiny trim like it was a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport and I scurried up the ladder to commence Step 2: Assembly. I connected the wires with wire nuts (after turning off the breaker, obviously) with a little more confidence than my original fumbling of the wires during disassembly and began to screw the pendant pipe into the existing gas pipe.

Square peg, round hole. Actually small round peg with thinner thread spacing and large round hole with wider thread spacing. I needed some kind part that would reduce the size and thread from the gas pipe to the size and thread of the pendant pipe. I headed over to Victor’s Lighting to see if they had this miracle contraption. “You need a thread reducer,” the guy behind the desk at Victor’s told me. (Thread reducer. Huh. ) “I have some because this is a popular issue in old Victorian homes.” One dollar later I was on my way home.

Once I had the thread reducer, installation was easy. I installed the ceiling medallion with Liquid Nails and a few screws to keep it in place with until dry. I screwed the pipe of the pendant light into the gas pipe through the thread reducer. I connected the wires with wire nuts (again making sure the breaker was off). Finally, I flipped the breaker back on and pulled the switch.

And I'm spent...
(Except that the pull chain was a little short and Andi had to stand on her tippy-toes to pull it. The next day she brought home a chain extension, so voila again!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Powder Room - Dean's Story

Phase 2 is finally over. Well, almost. 99.8% over. We still need to get custom door trim for the hall, but other than that, place a ‘check’ in the boxes next to the ‘Powder Room’ and the ‘Office Nook’. We’re due for an extended vacay—maybe until August or September—and then it’s on to the main bathroom.

The 99.8% completed powder

Phase 2 increased my limited DIY knowledge base. Phase 2 was the first time I framed a door, the first time I finished gyp board, the first time I laid tile, and the first time I hung crown molding. Phase 2 also humbled my DIY capabilities—it was the first time I framed a door, the first time I finished gyp board, the first time I laid tile, and the first time I hung crown molding.

Everything about Phase 2 was an experience for us, good or bad. But now that it is finally over, we’re happy with our accomplishments and the final product. Andi grades the projects as a B+ for the powder room and an A- for the office nook. I grade them “tear my hair out” and “a minor pain in the ass” respectively.

I noted the difficulties I had framing the door and alcove in an earlier blog. Not only did I contend with double wall and 2x3 actual stud size issues, but I learned rough framing plays a huge part in finishing walls (duh). Out-of-level studs made attaching gyp board extremely messy. Once I screwed the gyp board to the studs, the gyp rolled and dipped like the Marin headlands, which made finishing the gyp board sketchy at best.

Taping the gyp board was simple. Mudding (spreading the joint compound over the taped joints and filling the screw holes) and sanding was not so much. Applying the joint compound consistently and evenly was a skillset I barely learned, partially because the gyp board was never flat enough for an even coat of the compound and mostly because I struggled at it. And I never really mastered the “wet sand” technique so it seemed like I spent hours sanding, re-applying the compound after we over-sanded, and sanding again. So I asked Andi to do it instead. She fared better (much better) but also shared in my frustrations.

Typically architects specify gyp board finish on a rating system. Our rating system looked like this:

·      Level 1 - total crap
·      Level 2 - OK if it’s behind something or above eye level
·      Level 3 - acceptable if you squint your eyes slightly
·      Level 4 - done because I’m not doing it again
·      Level 5 - not bad; almost professional

Our gyp board finish usually fell in the 2-4 range, leaning toward Level 4. But there was a fair share of Level 5 and we pretty much got rid of all of the Level 1 areas.

Our powder room is not a rectangle—there is an alcove where the existing door frame used to reside. Although the alcove looks pretty cool now that the bathroom is finished, and gives the user a nice cozy feeling when inside, installing base molding was difficult—mostly because I routinely made incorrect measurements. In truth, installation is a simple process if you have the right tools: a miter saw, a tape measure, a pencil, some finish nails… yep, that’s about it. Unfortunately I am still an apprentice with the complicated tool called the tape measure. I poorly measured and incorrectly cut numerous lengths of base molding incorrectly and made multiple trips to the garage to re-cut new pieces.

The completed office nook.
The crown molding installation was even more exciting. In addition to struggling with the tape measure, I struggled with the compound miter saw too. Crown molding is finicky—not only do you have to set the miter angle, you have to set the bevel angle on the miter saw as well. Miter angle? Bevel angle?! Complicated. I knew the potential difficulties with crown molding going into the project so I selected a brand of crown molding that makes installation easier—Flipface. The Flipface website has step-by-step instructions on how to install their product correctly. I followed them on the whole, but not well enough to avoid some minor errors. First, I incorrectly read the Crown Angle Chart—mostly because I did know which product I actually purchased (R7048) and cut the first few pieces with the cutting angles for a different product (R5180). Once that was discovered, I cut the lengths successfully and relied on Andi to do her caulk magic to make it pretty.

The one area of the powder room project in which we succeeded completely was the budget. Our original goal, a long, long time ago, was to complete the space under the $8,000 mark (our first-time home buyer tax credit). When we started designing the project, and after we completed a few other projects, we realized that goal might be difficult since we underestimated the costs of certain materials and fixtures so we raised our budget to $10,000. We still wanted to be as frugal as we could be, but there is so much cool stuff out there that we splurged on a few things. Well, the final numbers are in… the total project cost was $8,624.21! We came in way under budget! Three snaps in the z-formation for us!

(FYI, there is a new “Budgets” link on the blog titlebar above where you can see the final costs of all of our projects to date.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Office and Library in 8 Square Feet


My inspiration for our office.

Part of the charm of our apartment is the long hallway that has lots of nooks and irregular corners. We recently turned one of these nooks into an office/library.

This photo from Metropolitan Home was my inspiration. This Manhattan apartment, home of architect Jeffery Povero, has walls in Benjamin Moore’s “Iron Mountain.” I love how the dark walls contrast with the white shelves. I also love the way that the orange storage boxes provide visual organization.

Dean might say that I “copied” this photo and that I “lack imagination” (in fact, he has said those exact things). Copying is antithetical to his architectural moral code.  I say this office was my “inspiration.” In the end I got the shelves I wanted, and our hallway was already painted dark gray (Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe). The desk is different from the picture. We are both happy with the outcome.

The office nook became possible when we moved this gigantic door to the adjacent wall in the hallway.
Dean screws together the shelves. The wall on the right on the office nook is new--built to expend the
bathroom by 8 inches.

Looking up at the shelves.
After getting a quote from a cabinet-maker-friend for $1,600 to build the shelves, Dean decided to build them himself. (No offense to our friend, I am sure he would have done a spectacular job, but we are on a budget).

Dean bought $200 in wood at Home Depot and bolted 1x2”’s into the walls on three sides of the nook to create a structural frame. Then he cut plywood to fit, and screwed it on top and bottom of the 3-sided frames he already installed. He cut 2.5 inch strips of smooth architectural plywood and affixed those strips to the front of the shelves with Liquid Nails as the faceplates. I was the master sander and painter (the shelves are the same color as all woodwork in our apartment—Halo by C2 Paint). We puttied screw holes and little gaps between the faceplates and plywood with acrylic putty, then sanded it down and re-painted. It took two full days to cut, build, sand, paint, putty, re-sand and re-paint these 4 shelves.

The completed office. The top shelf turns a corner and rests on top of the new bathroom bump-out. Dean
"styled" it in red.
Some elements of the office are responses to the bathroom right next door. For example, the top shelf wraps around the corner. It rests on a new bumped-out wall we built to make the bathroom large enough for a sink and toilet.  The wrapped shelf hopefully makes that wall, which is the height of the door that used to be there, seem more incorporated with the overall design.  In addition, when we built the bathroom we needed to add an exposed, industrial-looking vent pipe that runs across the office nook. Our second hope was that our modern office design would make that pipe look less jarring. 

The lighthouse light.
We hired an electrician to work on the bathroom, and while he was here we had him add the white lighthouse wall sconce in the office area (cost: $112 with dimmer switch). We also had the electrician add electrical outlets near the floor for our laptops and printer. The cost of the electrician for this job was $842.

Our carrera marble desk. It is a really cozy and luxurious place to check email.
In every project I have to break the budget in some way. Our custom Carerra marble desk is definitely the splurge in this project. A few weekends ago we went down to Imperial Marble Kitchen & Bath in South San Francisco and picked out a stone remnant for our 42” x 25” desk (cost for marble: $270).  We asked for a special mitered edge that mimics the 2.5” square edges of our bookshelves  and a hole drilled for laptop cords. We asked them to come to our house, create a custom template to our irregular plaster walls, and come back to install and caulk the marble slab (cost: $470 for all cuts and custom installation).  We are DIYers, but we do not care to mess with stone and curvy walls. Total cost: $765 with tax. Dean built the structural frame for the marble slab himself, using a similar technique as the shelves.

Semikolon storage boxes come in amazing colors.
I bought six red storage boxes at Container Store ($130) and Dean bought the black filing cube under the desk at Office Max for $67.88. The chair is from Ikea and I already had it from the kitchen in our last apartment. 

It is so nice to have all of our papers organized and our books accessible, and have a landing spot for our laptops so they are not strewn around the house. We are very happy with the result.

Total project cost: $2,117.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tick Up the Bathroom Count to... 1.5!

This blog is about the design and finishes of our new ½ bath. Later Dean will regale you with construction stories.

Our new half bath! (Thanks to my sister Val for these towels--a gift!)
The big news: we are done with the inside of the bathroom! It took a long time to turn a closet into a ½ bath and was not heaps of fun at different points in the project. We worked on it for 8 weekends in January, February and March, and on every one of those Saturdays I would wake up and think, “I wish I could go on a hike/to brunch/to yoga today.” But it is finished and we think it is the most beautiful ½ bath on the planet. Sometimes I open the bathroom door and just stand there and admire it, like a prize pony or precious gem.  This is definitely a result of building the bathroom with our own four hands. Very satisfying.

The closet before we turned it into a
bathroom. Yes, this is the same space!
The Villeroy & Boch sink.
The ½ bath is a mix of high and low. We were on a budget and so we had to pick our splurges judiciously.

The “Highs”:

The Sink: We found this white porcelain Villeroy & Boch sink online for $510.30 (on sale, regularly it is around $760). In case you ever want a similar sink, I think our Google search term was “very small sink.” It had to be no more than 15 inches deep to preserve the 24 inches of clearance to the toilet that San Francisco building code requires.

It was a leap of faith to order the most expensive bathroom element sight-unseen (at $510.30, the sink was over 30% of our budget for fixtures and finishes). But honestly there were not many choices on the teeny-tiny sink market and this one is unusual, well-proportioned and modern all at the same time. It reminds me of a bubble, a lily pad or Camilla Parker’s hat at the Royal Wedding. We get lots of compliments on it. We added a contemporary exposed plumbing below the sink for $75 in parts.

Shopping Tip: I always did Google Image searches when shopping for bathroom finishes. It is much easier to scan pages of images rather than click through hundreds of links to see the actual sink, faucet, tile etc. I imagine this technique would be good for shopping for many different items.

Farrow & Ball colors: Borrowed Light and Oval
Room Blue for the ceiling.
The paint: We splurged on Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light for the walls and Oval Room Blue for the ceiling. They are absolutely beautiful. In House Beautiful one designer said, “Borrowed Light feels as if you've taken the roof off the room and the sky and the clouds have mixed together.” After my fiasco in the hallway trying to match Farrow & Ball paint, I went straight for the brand name in the bathroom. We are super happy with the result. Cost: $100 for a small room.

The “Middles”:

The "Santa Rosa"

The faucet:  We bought this Danze faucet for $159. We needed a single handle faucet and liked the lines on this one. It is a good compliment to the circular sink and floor tiles, and provides good contrast with the boxy mirror and light fixture. Faucets can be really expensive ($500+ at Waterworks) and really cheap ($30 at Home Depot). We thought this was a good compromise.

Ann Sacks Savoy Cottonwood penny tile.

The toilet:  We picked the Kohler “Santa Rosa” and paid $293 at Home Depot. I don’t think too much about toilet design. I didn’t even know toilets had names like the Santa Rosa. To me, it is utilitarian. We choose Kohler’s Santa Rosa because it is on the modern side of things and it meets San Francisco’s strict environmental requirements for low water flow.  It also accommodated the clearance space we needed between the toilet and sink.

The tile: For the floor we picked a penny tile from Ann Sacks at $10.98 a square foot. It is called the Savoy Cottonwood penny tile. You can certainly get cheaper penny tile, but this tile has a ring of faded blue and brown on the outer edges, which is an important design element in the room. Total tile price was $179.48.

We love that the tile is a traditional shape for an old Victorian home but the faded border brings a pop of modernity. Also, we decided not to tile the walls—a cost-savings measure and it seemed unnecessary in such a small room with no possibility of steam. Dean laid the tile himself and he will tell you more about that adventure. His takeaway was that anyone can lay tile and achieve a B+ product! Good enough for us.

The “Lows”:

The mirror: It is from Ikea and was hanging in the bedroom in our old apartment. The wood frame brings nature into the room, which is important. Without the touch of natural wood the room could feel more like a pharmacy and less like a spa. Cost: Nothing because we already owned it.

The mirror and Dean's work of nature art.

The vintage door, salvaged from another
The door: This is a long story, but the Victorian four-panel door that was originally on the closet could not be reused when we moved the door to the adjacent wall. It had to do with the stud spacing and the giganticness of that door. So we took that door to the architectural salvage yard (Building Resources) and picked a smaller used door, also Victorian and four-paneled. Total cost: $75.

The light fixture: It is from Lamps Plus and cost $92.44. Nobody is going to write home about this light. I had a hard time picking a light fixture and decided that I would buy this as a placeholder. I might upgrade the light in the future if I decide this one is too boring. Switching a light fixture is simple, unlike ripping out tile, a sink, or a toilet.  For now I think it is fine—not the highlight of the room, but it also does not compete with the design elements that are more important to me.

The light fixture and ceiling design.
The hardware: I love the towel bar, toilet paper holder, and little glass shelf we bought at Home Depot. They are from the Innova Jameson line, and seriously look as nice as products from Restoration Hardware that cost 3X as much. Total Cost: $80.00.
The ceiling fan: I qualify this as more of a mechanical element than a décor feature. There is a plastic cover on the ceiling that hides the fan, so it is visual in some way. A fan is required for every bathroom per building code. We chose this charcoal ductless fan—the used-Hyundai of fans (Nutone 682NT).  It is fine, necessary, whatever. Dean bought it on for $32.57 because I am not that interested in it.

The Trim: Dean bought the trim and crown molding at Home Depot. It is a good size for the room and covers the craggy corners. Cost: $60.

The staging: I put a candle in a cool saucer that was my Grandmother’s. Cost: Free.
Dean picked up some rocks on Baker Beach and stacked them himself to create a rock sculpture. Again, bringing nature into the bath is soothing and exudes a spa feeling. Cost: Free.

I stacked some toilet paper on the shelf. Cost: Not pertinent because it is functional.

I hung a watercolor that I painted of Dean on a hiking trip to Tamarac Lake in the Desolation Wilderness. Cost: Free because I already had the frame.

And there you have it! All of our bathroom fixtures and finishes. Total cost: $1,656.89. It is astonishing how many design choices you have to make for a room that is 15 square feet.  

Architectural detail in the spot where the former
door was placed.

The 1/2 bath!


We love our new bathroom and it has already brought more harmony to our home. Dean and I no longer get in arguments when one person spends way too much time in the bathroom. And now we can renovate our main bathroom in August without running to Popeye’s every time we need the loo!  

Staging and our cute new shelf ($39.99).

Clearance between sink and toilet: very important to San
Francisco building department.