...because home doesn't happen overnight.

In an effort to come up with finishes and an overall aesthetic for our master bathroom, I’ve been pouring over bathroom images online for weeks.  Originally, I liked the idea of hunting for a petite antique table or dresser, adding a sink to the top and converting it into a bathroom vanity.

Unfortunately, my antiquing and secondhand shopping haven’t turned up a suitable option.  The dressers I find are too large…too deep and too wide.  The tables that look like they’ll work are too ornate for our simple style.  Boo.

It just wasn’t working.  I wasn’t getting anywhere and I finally came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t supposed to work.  So, I dropped the salvaged dresser/table idea and moved on.  I still like the idea of incorporating antique furniture into our home, but I don’t think our small bathroom is going to be the place to do it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that a floating vanity might work well in our small master bathroom.

They take up less space visually and physically.  They’re simple, usually with clean lines.

The options are endless, too.  An open wooden rectangular box with open storage in plain sight, two chunky concrete shelves hung parallel with textured baskets for hidden storage, or even a sink with a closed floating cabinet just beneath it are all variations of the floating vanity that could work.

Even a floating chunky wood countertop with a simple sink installed on top would provide space underneath for open or closed storage in the form of baskets or ottomans.  When I mentioned the floating vanity idea to Handy Hubby we was all ears.  He says it would be relatively easy to DIY. Plus, it would cost a whole heck of a lot less than the $400 sink/vanity combos I’ve seen at the home improvement stores.  And if we DIY a floating vanity, we have the freedom to customize it to our bathroom and its dimensions.  Just check out this DIY’d plywood floating vanity I came across and nearly fainted over…

Seriously?!  Isn’t that amazing?

The contrast of the sleek metal sink bowls against the warm plywood is spot on.  And by DIYing the project themselves, these homeowners created a totally custom piece that fits their bathroom and aesthetic to a T.

I like it.  I think we should do it.  Now, I just have to come up with a design.  I plan on adding hidden and concealed storage elsewhere in the bathroom to house toiletries.  It will also give us a good excuse to edit our already small arsenal of bathroom things.  But I think we can make it work.

What do you think?  Do you like the idea of a floating vanity in a small bathroom?  Maybe you have one yourself.  Or possibly you think it’s a horrible idea and I should ditch it right away.  I’d love to hear what you think.

images:  1) Rate My Space  2) Mirrors Mirrorsss  3) Bohemian Stoneworks  4) Rate My Space  5 & 6) Dwelement

09.28.11 / Up on the Housetop

“…reindeer pause…out jumps good ol’ Santa Claus…”

There are only 87 days until Christmas.  This makes me a little nauseous.  But that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about the Underdog’s roof.  Prepare to learn more than you ever wanted to know about it.

The backside of the Underdog is riddled with all kinds of venting paraphernalia on the roof. {Disregard the horrid landscaping and dirty brick.  We’ll get to those…someday.}  Several features were present when we bought the house but others have been added to meet code requirements and to make the house safer and healthier.

Three surface vents near the ridge of the roof came with the house.  Typically, they are thought to create adequate air flow beneath the roof so that condensation problems are avoided.  These vents will disappear with a new roof install and new foam insulation.

Along with the surface vents, there is a gas furnace vent and the chimney both of which are original to the house.  These will remain intact although the wood burning fireplace will be converted to gas.

Two plumbing vents {they look like small black pipes sticking up through the roof} were in place already and will remain as well.  The one on the left is for the bathrooms and the one on the right is above the laundry area.  Are you starting to get a feel for the house’s layout and {modest!} size just by knowing what’s what on the roof?  Kinda cool, right?

The old kitchen hood vent is located near the laundry area.  Previously, the stove was placed on the wall that separates the laundry closet from the kitchen.  We’re moving the range to the exterior wall of the kitchen at the back of the house.  It will be placed between the two kitchen windows to serve as a focal point and to make room for the refrigerator which was previously located along an interior wall that we knocked down.  Remember the wall between the living room and kitchen? Yep, that’s where the fridge used to be.  The new kitchen layout puts the fridge where the stove used to be.  Soooo…that old kitchen hood vent is going bye-bye.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this bad boy is the new kitchen hood vent.  Handy Hubby installed it himself.

That’s the interior view.  Notice how the range and hood will be centered – albeit not perfectly due to space restrictions – between the two windows.  We also have plans to convert the window on the right side to french doors.  We like the idea of having direct access from the kitchen to a future backyard patio since we prefer to eat outside as much as possible.  But enough of that.  Back to the roof…

Also new to the roof is a vent for the radon mitigation system that we had installed.  {The house failed radon testing upon inspection.}  If you’ll remember, HH had the grand idea to locate it within the laundry nook’s walls to save precious space. The roof vent was part of the hired out install.

When we bought the Underdog, our inspector discovered that the dryer vented directly into the attic.  There was 50 years worth of lint in that attic!  Gross and not so great for preventing moisture in the attic.  HH installed a new dryer vent which vents to the outside through the roof now.  No more attic lint!

From the inside, you can see where the new dryer vent and radon mitigation system exit through the roof.

HH also installed fans for proper ventilation in each of the two bathrooms.  When we purchased the house, there were no bathroom fans.  Even before we uncovered a major mold and mildew problem in one the bathrooms, we were set on having proper bathroom ventilation.  I can barely stand to shower in a bathroom with no fan!  Like in hotels.  You know that can’t be good.  Nothing dries out.  Towels are still damp when you go to use them the next day.  Ew.  Me no likey.  So, two new bathroom fans it is.

This should also give you a better idea of the bathrooms’ size and location.  Even though we’re designating one as the ‘kid/guest bathroom’ and the other as the ‘master bathroom’, there’s really no difference between them.  They are mirror images of each other and exactly the same size. And there’s definitely nothing master-ish about the master bathroom – other than in being located off a bedroom.

In summary, several original roof vents are coming out and we’ve added a few new ones. Specifically, three surface vents and one old hood vent are no longer needed.  Instead, proper ventilation for the radon mitigation system, dryer, new kitchen hood and two bathroom fans has been added.

Why am I sharing all of this?  There’s a good reason.  If all goes as planned {which could likely NOT happen because we’re talking real life renovation here} the Underdog is getting a new roof this weekend.  All of that stuff I just bored you with beat to death had to be completed before the new roof could go on.  And since we were wanting to DIY most of those little projects {dryer vent, hood vent, bathroom vents} to save some money, it’s taken us a while to get around to it.  But they’re finished now and the roofing material has been ordered.  We’re just hoping we stay on the schedule for this weekend.  Fingers crossed!

In case you’re wondering, we did in fact decide to go with a metal roof which I mentioned a while back here.  It won’t be a standing seam style as seen here…

The quote on that style came back way over our budget.  Instead, it will be an Everlast charcoal gray roofing metal that contains more ribbing {i.e. humps}.  It’s not exactly what we would have chosen style wise if money wasn’t a concern BUT money is a concern.  The metal roof will look more like this…

Notice how there are large ribs every 9″ or so with lower rising ribs in between.  As far as color goes, we’ve pretty much been set on a dark gray or black since we began contemplating a metal roof.  We want something that looks great with the original brick color as is {i.e. the way it is right now} and that would look great with lime washed brick too since we’re thinking that may be in the Underdog’s future…far future…not anything we’d do right away.  We settled on a charcoal gray color just because we felt the black would too much contrast.  And you know I like gray!

Price wise, yes, a metal roof is more expensive than an asphalt roof.  But we really want something maintenance free that will last a long, long time and we’re trying to go as green as we can afford on some items whose aesthetic appeals to us.  We have money from an insurance claim that we filed back in June after a severe hail storm damaged the already weak and leaky roof.  The money the insurance company gave us was based on a new asphalt roof. After all is said in done, we’ll be paying $1,500 – $2,000 for a new metal roof.  This includes new gutters to accommodate the runoff from the metal roof and the installation of four skylights over the kitchen area which I briefly discussed here.

That’s the latest on progress at the Underdog.  Things have been sort of at a standstill for the last week or so.  For one, HH finally took a weekend off {the first I can remember in a long time!} to take Layne camping.  They had a blast.  Also, we’re awaiting the arrival of new doors and windows.  We were told they would be in this week but, lo and behold, now we’re being told it will be next week before they arrive.  HH has just about had it with contractors and their broken promises.  Luckily, nothing major has happened but HH is tired of getting the run around. Especially since he thinks he could do most everything himself if he had the time.  The new windows and doors arriving a week late pushes everything back…insulation, drywall, flooring, kitchen install, etc.

Oh well.  It’s nothing we didn’t expect or weren’t warned of when we initially told everyone our renovation plans.  We’re grateful that we have a roof over our heads and don’t have a pressing deadline.  Still, we’d like to get everything done and move in soon.  We try to remind ourselves daily that it’s all just stuff in the end and we’ll get there eventually.  Plus, we really do enjoy seeing our drab Underdog come to life – even if it is in gradual little spurts.

images:  1-12) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking  13) LGC Roofing  14) North Carolina Metal Roofing

I mentioned wanting to add a few houseplants in our apartment to help get rid of the inevitable ‘apartment smell.’  I decided to go with a few snake plants since they’re one of the top 15 NASA recommended house plants for improving air quality.

I picked up 2 snake plants {one large one and one small one}, 2 bags of sheet moss and one bag of potting soil at Home Depot for about $40.  I already had two large planters on hand.

The white textured one is from HomeGoods.  I bought it over a year ago and planted a bamboo palm in it at our previous house but it didn’t fare so well.  {i.e. my black thumb killed it}  The smaller black and white floral motif planter was an estate sale purchase.  I paid less than $50 total for them both.

I filled each planter with potting soil then added a snake plant.  I really needed a tad more soil in the smaller pot but ran out and didn’t want to buy more so I made do with what I had.

I’m so glad I did this outside on the balcony of our apartment as I made quite the mess!  Dragging a small trowel and gardening gloves out of storage just seemed like too much of a hassle at the time. So, yeah, I did it all with my bare hands.

I cut and placed a layer of sheet moss on top of the soil.  I’d never used moss on top of soil in a planter before but I wanted to give it a try since it gives the planter a more organic feel and hides the dirt.  I ended up needing only one of the two bags of moss.  I even had a little leftover from the first bag after covering the soil in each planter.

I love the extra green and added texture of the moss.  Makes me want to zap myself with a shrinking laser and traipse through the pot à la Lord of the Rings style.

Luckily, Handy Hubby was around to carry the {heavy!} potted planters inside from the balcony.  I had him place the larger one in the living room next to the sofa.

Snake plants can survive with little light and in this position, the planter receives north light so I think it will do okay here.  I just have to remember not to overwater it!  Snake plants can survive with little water, too.

I placed a cork circle beneath the planter to catch any run off and avoid carpet stains.  {The planter has a drain hole in the bottom.}

I placed the smaller snake plant on a wooden trunk in our bedroom beneath a north-facing window. Again, this one could use some more soil to bring the plant up a bit.  Maybe I’ll get around to that…

I love the oversized scale of it in the bedroom.  The patterned planter is one of my new favorite pieces.  So happy I broke down and bought it at an estate sale last spring.  {It belonged to the Underdog’s previous owner.}  I wasn’t sure what to do with it at the time but I think the clean lines of the snake plant are a great contrast to the swirly floral motif.  Plus, the upward reaching snake plant leaves give a clear view of the planter’s pattern.  I wouldn’t want to cover it up.

There’s even subtle pattern on the rim of the planter.  So charming.

With two snake plants in our houseplant mix, we now have 5 NASA recommended houseplants {along with a few succulents not on the NASA list} in the apartment.  While it’s a far cry from the 15 that NASA recommends {yikes!  That’s triple what we have!}, I still feel good about our plant arsenal. More than likely, I’ll continue to add to it when we move into the Underdog.  Plus, I don’t think HH would be too happy about carrying 15 large planters down the 3 flights of stairs that lead to our apartment when the time comes to move {which we’re thinking will be November} into the Underdog.

While I can’t say that the apartment smell no longer exists {I still get a whiff of stale air and old carpet every now and then}, the good news is that I spent less than $40 on this apartment project but it will completely carry over to the Underdog.  No money wasted!  The pop of living greenery really brings a fresh look to the apartment too.

What plants do you have in your houseplant arsenal?  Which is your favorite?  Are you closer to the NASA recommended #15 than me?

FYI – Snake plants are toxic even though they’ve been used in some herbal remedies.  Always use caution when handling them and use supervision when kids/pets are around!

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Sorry this is going up so late!  I worked second shift tonight and just got home.  My entire morning was spent running around packing bags and coolers for my lil’ and big guys’ weekend camping trip. So that means I have the entire apartment to myself for one night.  It’s eerily quiet!  I barely know what to do with myself.  This is a rare occasion for me.  I’m trying to enjoy it.  I think I may change into my comfy pajamas and read one of the design books I checked out from the library last week. {Our new library has a much better interior design selection than our previous library and I’m taking full advantage of it!}  It’s Darryl Carter’s The New Traditional, if you’re interested and I’m loving it.

But enough about me.  I enjoyed reading through this week’s giveaway comments and seeing what everyone had to say about their own handwriting.  Many of you lamented the sad fact that typing has cursed your handwriting skills.  I guess that’s why it’s never a bad idea to write out a card or letter {versus an email, tweet or text} every once in a while – just to keep our handwriting in check.

Lucky for Sharon {the one who commented that she hates her handwriting, only signs her name and uses a fine tip marker to print everything else} – she’ll get the chance to improve her writing skills with the help of some Jack & Ella stationery! Congrats, Sharon!

Happy, happy weekend to the rest of you!  And happy first day of my favorite season…fall!

images:  book cover image via Gordon Beall