First Impressions


When people walk into your home, how are they greeted? Is it with a pile of shoes and evidence of a busy, active home? Or are you striving for a Pottery Barn-esque entryway? As your guests walk through your home and get comfortable, there is inevitably, THE bathroom that becomes the guest bathroom. Maybe you only have one bathroom, and it serves double or triple duty. If you’re like me, there is the quintessential “powder room”. The bathroom that is maintained just a bit more, in case guests stop by and always looks ready.

My powder room started in a blah blank place. The people we purchased our home from where ‘flippers’ and they were motivated to make the house as universally appealing as possible. And while they certainly succeeded, it’s not how I would love the room. Mr. Plaid and I look to do our own reno projects someday, to the kitchen and bathroom(s), but that takes dollars and skills, both of which… well, we’re progressing on in our own time.

For the powder room, I would love to see the manufacture-grade cabinet/sink combo be replaced with a lovely pedestal sink, it would take up less space but make more of an impact.



The mirror above the cabine-sink is huge, actually takes up the entire wall on that side from left to right and sits under a row of bulb lights. We all know the ones I’m talking about. They are unflattering and a pain to clean? You know the ones?

Basic, basic, basic

Basic, basic, basic

I would replace those with a lovely pair of (flattering) lower-watt sconces that would be soft enough that could be left on during dinner parties without being obtrusive. Like these:

SchoolHouse Electric

Schoolhouse Electric

But until then, I am left with two Kohl canvas finds and a trip to the big box store on the hunt for paint.


My first thought was to embrace my desire for color and bold tones in the house, so I thought a goldenrod or even orange would do the trick.

Not so Golden

Not so Golden

That got vetoed. Fast.

Still trying to choose

Still trying to choose

So I went and tried to find an interesting enough color that still was vibrant and inviting, while trying to make the space feel bigger. Let me just confess something here, paint color picking, is hard for me. Not only because of my commitment issues, but because I put a lot of pressure on the color. For some of my rooms and progress with making my house a home, paint and the color I choose is the main player until more aspects of the room can be brought together. It’s not an all or nothing. Every project and DIY effort is in flux and changing. I still have plans for my buffet, or that damn bar tray. I bake Macarons at least once a month, trying new flavors and colors, getting the Pied just right and the softness perfect.

Still trying to convince him

Still trying to convince him

Anyway, I am rambling. “Waiter… more coffee please!!”

Back to my color dilemma. As you can see, Mr. Plaid helped choose a more man-friendly color, and since I wanted him to continue encouraging my décor endeavors, I obliged the blue-grey and dove right in.



Let me tell you, cutting in and taping that room, was a pain. In my neck, my back, and metaphorically, my ass.

Good prep does make a job easier

Good prep does make a job easier

Cut and tape

Cut and tape

But, the quick change was welcome and continues to be a bright spot.

Not too shabby

Not too shabby

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Lazy wins out

Sometimes, you get inspired, you make a mood board, you paint test and buy all the supplies ever. You prime, you paint and you step back and go… yup, good enough.

Sometimes, Lazy wins out.

Your inner decorator bitches at you “but you were INSPIRED” and the tired decorator says “shove it” and drinks a beer. That’s basically how it went with the master bathroom painting.

First things, a reminder:
I WAS inspired

I researched all the right and wrong ways to paint stripes, read which sheens were the best to ensure the effect I was going for and then, after test-painting what seemed like all the greens EVER, found the right hue and dove in. I went with Eddie Bauer’s ‘Stem Green’ (EB22-4) for my final color and, like the instructions say, started with my semi-gloss sheen, to ensure good protection in a humid room.

So many options

So many options

The Painted Surface had a great step by step tutorial, and just googling “tonal stripes” found me all kinds of images and links to choose from. By the time I was done reading, I was ready to hire a professional and just have it done for me. But that would defeat the point, right? So, I cleaned out the room, wiped the walls down, and taped it out.

The first coat went on nice and easy and in the time it takes to a drink a few beers, it was dry enough for a second coat. [Confession: I have little patience for things like drying paint and sprouting plants. For some reason, I think the minute I stick a seed in the ground or throw some paint on the wall, angels should sing and flowers will bloom. Unfortunately, reality dashes a lot of dreams.]

By the time I finished with the second coat, the writing was on the wall. I was not feeling inspired to wait, tape, paint and then paint again.

Horse Photography

Horse Photography


As I had already completed two other projects for my mini-makeover, I thought, I’ll just set up the room and see how it looks.  I don’t even know why I was pretending. I knew I wasn’t going to come back to the stripes. I wanted to, I still want to. And maybe I will in the coming months, but, at the time, ugh – I was just done. I had new towels, new mats, great photography to put up and a cute little cabinet found and re-done from craigslist.


A little paint and a little love

A little paint and a little love


As my therapist tells me, ‘sometimes, good enough, is just good enough’. I still feel accomplished and enjoy the project for what it is. Sometimes, things just aren’t going to get those angels to hallelujah and it’s not going to get re-pinned on that ever-loving website. But, it is good enough to poop in, and I guess that’s really the point. Right?

For now...

For now…






Enter the Jackalope

So now that the crisis has passed, let’s talk about how the idea of a few simple upgrades and one little fixture upgrade ends in pre-emptive tears and panic. Conceptually, the bathroom thing should be easy – they’re small rooms, they have clearly defined functions and needs, and there’s usually a finite amount of things you CAN do to them without full gut-and-remodel jobs. When we first talked bathrooms, it was exciting, because really, all it would take to make things shine would be a little elbow grease and some inspiration, right?

The thing is, a little bit of inspiration goes a long way, and quickly becomes a lot of inspiration. And, a lot of inspiration? Well. A lot of inspiration bypasses the long way entirely and ends up taking the express lanes on the highway to crazy town.

Don’t believe me? Try searching “vintage bathrooms” at Houzz.

You can also get into a world of trouble with searching things like “clawfoot tub.”

Or “slipper tub.”

Or “penny tile.”

Oh, dear fancy cheezits, the penny tile.

Meanwhile, I don’t have a quaint clawfoot tub or pristine penny tile, I have molded fiberglass tubs and builder-grade cabinets and a bathroom fan that sounds like a leaf blower chock full o’ disgruntled rocks. How the HELL was this ever even remotely a good idea?

Even after cooler heads – not mine – prevailed and I was reconciled to doing what I could with what I have, I wasn’t happy about it. Every little planned expense I wrote into the budget just felt like I was picking the pocket of the CLEARLY DESPERATELY NEEDED future remodel. Why was I trying to hire a handyman to replace a fan when I need a contractor to replace the floors? How could I POSSIBLY feel good about buying a gallon to of paint to splash on the walls when what I REALLY should be doing is ripping the walls down to the studs? Why would I not begrudge every penny I spent on a new bathmat when the bathroom would never be anything but a failure without a new bathtub??

Heart heavy and heartily resentful, I started shopping around for a new bathmat, hoping that one minor purchase would get me back on a more enthusiastic track…and there it was: the Jackalope.


$12? 15% off and free shipping on the one day I happened to be shopping? FATE. FATE FATE FATE.

With that one small, silly purchase from Urban Outfitters, this bathroom update gained some serious perspective. As much as I love Houzz hunting, and as much as I would love to end this month with a bathroom that blew the socks off of those design dreams above…it’s hard to lament the lack of design perfection when a little porcelain jackalope that dispenses cotton balls out of it’s butt is clearly the most perfect thing ever.

Still the tiniest bit bitter about how I’m going to have to hire a pro to swap out that dratted bathroom fan, though.

April, fools!

We had this awesome plan: April! April showers! Let’s tackle some bathrooms!

I was crazy excited about this plan, because one of my bathrooms is a décor nightmare, and my other bathroom, no matter how good it looks, is a utilitarian nightmare thanks to a total lack of storage.

April was going to be my month. April was going to be my absolute jam. CRAZY EXCITED.

And then I just woke up March 31st feeling plain old crazy, and ready to do anything, ANYTHING, except tackle my bathrooms this month, or possibly ever.

Jenn did an admirable one-two punch of tolerating me and talking me down, and after a few days’ hyperventilation and revision of plans, I’m ready to say that we are going to take our respective bathrooms to the figurative cleaners.

But first.


It’s Fig Race Check In Time!

I was prepared to do a victory lap – not only did our fiddle leaf fig fetish get totally validated on Apartment Therapy recently (with a side order of “you think you need to spend $300 for one of those?” gloating) but my little Pudding measures in at 29″ as of today.

29! That’s 4″! and let me celebrate both that accomplishment AND my own laziness by saying I haven’t even repotted Pudding from the nursery pot he came in. HOW DO YOU BEAT THAT?

The answer is…with sheer adorableness. Behold what Jenn’s little Omar is up to:


Yep. That’s a baby leaf. A BABY LEAF! You just can’t conquer that kind of cute.

And now…on with the show(ers)!