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a Quick Bath Upgrade

by Sarah on November 19, 2013, no comments

Before I officially listed my previous home for sale one of the things on the punch list was to give the master bath a quick upgrade without remodeling the entire thing. Out of necessity we had the entire shower re-tiled months before. The whole story about the mystery leak is here.

I previously posted the before of this bathroom and talked about the plans I had for the upgrade. I needed a fix that stayed consistent with the overall style of the house and a look that would be pleasing to most. Here’s what I set out to do with this quick fix-up:

  • upgrade cabinetry
  • replace existing mirror with 2 framed mirrors
  • eliminate recessed lighting and replace with sconces
  • paint walls & ceiling
  • replace window
  • install new hardware
  • install new vent fan

The cabinets were clearly the biggest eye sore in the room. They were vinyl coated, particle board cabinets with flat fronts. Some of the vinyl veneer was pealing away revealing the particle board.

sarah CT bath before2We needed new lighting, some new jewelry (hardware) and to make the biggest impact we needed to tweak the cabinets and replace the dated mirror. Clearly I’m stoked about taking photos of myself at 7:00 am and likely the workout that day at the gym too!

sarah CT bath before To avoid ripping all of the cabinetry out and everything with that I decided that the most cost effective and attractive way to go would be to have the Quality Cabinet Co. fabricate new drawer fronts and new cabinet doors and install them on the existing cabinet frame. After measurements were taken the building commenced and this is what we ended up with,

Sarah CT cabinet closeupThe next big element to tackle on the list was the very ugly and huge frame-less mirror that was glued to the wall. The regular carpentry crew came over to remove the mirror and remove the recessed lighting and patch those holes. The electrician followed closely on their heels to rough in for the sconces. I had our regular painters do the ceiling for me because I like to avoid holding things over my head for a sustained amount of time whenever possible and then I painted the trim and walls myself with Benjamin Moore’s Dove Wing.

dove wingSconces are the Steiner from Pottery Barn which are really substantial fixtures for the price but unfortunately are no longer available. All  hardware including the pulls, knobs and towel rings are from Lowe’s.

And here’s the result,

CT bathI think it turned out great without spending 10K. Here are some suggested things you can do to get a quick upgrade in your bath,

CT shower list





Grout Cottage: Exterior Lighting Choice

by Sarah on October 21, 2013, one comment

So we’ve checked out the field of choices for the exterior wall light for the front porch of the Grout Cottage. And this is the choice,

grout lightI chose the Masonic lantern because I needed a hanging fixture with a lantern style. I liked the simplicity of the hook and loop and the curve of the framing detail around the seeded glass. I am pleased with the scale and the end result, see for yourself.

Here it is in action on the front porch of the house,

Grout porch light

grout porch light2

 I know the house looks finished in the photo and I haven’t shown you the complete renovation but it’s coming I promise. Can you tell what paint color it is?


Grout Cottage: Exterior Paint Selection

by Sarah on September 18, 2013, one comment

Leaving dirty yellow, Pepto pink, white and a battleship gray foundation would be no trouble at all.

Grout front

From previous experience I know how painstaking the process of choosing an exterior paint color can be and I didn’t want to be rushed or procrastinate. I’ll sheepishly remind you all that I once had a house painted three times. In order to get ahead and never make that mistake again, I let samples stay up for something like two months at the Grout Cottage.

grout paint sample side2In gathering inspiration at the start of the project on the Grout Cottage pinboard, I pinned a few color combinations on Queen Anne style homes. For a hot minute, I kicked around maybe stepping away from the blues, greens & grays and doing some sort of terra cotta combo. Ultimately, I couldn’t depart from what I love so much so I decided that I would do something in the blue/gray family.

There were a few Benjamin Moore colors I have been curious about and wanted to try including:

1- Woodlawn Blue 2- Hollingsworth Green 3- Stratton Blue 4- Wythe Blue

grout paint sideI narrowed it to Woodlawn & Wythe fairly easily. After viewing them at different times of the day, I found that the intense sun washed Woodlawn Blue out significantly at certain times of the day.

So I chose Wythe Blue.

paint wythe blue

And then the rest of the players fell into place after that.

The Grout Cottage Exterior Paint Colors The Estate of Things



Sarah’s House: Dining Room Part II

by Sarah on August 13, 2013, one comment

To read the initial post about my dining room click here.

Clearly I needed a new fixture over the dining room table,

dining rm old chandy

 So I decided on this fixture,

bronze chandelierBecause I wanted something linear like this,

linear chandelier4 linear chandelier linear chandelier2 linear chandelier3via Pinterest

In addition to the chandy, there were some old plates that covered electrical boxes for sconces just like in the living room and I knew my electrician could get them working again. And the short version of the story is…he did. But the existing electrical boxes and wiring were old so he had to remove those and install new boxes and wiring. In the process of doing that he had to chip away some of the plaster around the boxes which left a void between the plaster and the electrical box.

Dining Rm paintedThis is the list I left for my electrician Chuck. I can hear him saying “smile Sara” with a thick southern accent, some sincerity and a hint of sarcasm. Chuck always makes it look easy but when you are fishing wire down through plaster walls the job can become frustrating. He didn’t have to cut any holes in the plaster to complete the job AND I think he might be some sort of electrical wizard.


Before ordering the sconces I measured the old plates covering the holes to make sure that the back plate of the new sconce I chose would cover the old hole. But what I didn’t anticipate was some of the plaster being chipped out making a larger hole.

So my carpenter applied some sheet rock mud with a trowel around the perimeter to cover the chipped plaster. Things were looking good.

To save a little money, my Dad and Dan being perfectly capable installed the sconces. So before installation I sanded the mud around the boxes and they looked like this,

And then once smooth, I touched up the paint with a small roller around the box and they looked like this,

And then my Dad arrived and after he & Dan began the install he said he was going to chip out some of the mud because the screw holes in the electrical box were covered over. I got a little worried thinking he was going to re-open the hole. But fortunately my Dad is so incredibly handy– he artfully chipped away the mud to reveal the holes and he and Dan got all six of them up in about an hour and a half.

So here we are with the sconces and chandelier up in my big empty dining room,


Just in case you are wondering, the bamboo shades are from Overstock and they are fantastic and they come in a million different sizes perfect for older homes with odd sized windows. Overstock is a great resource for window treatments.


They came with shades trimmed in brown. I thought the trim was a little unnecessary in this space, so I ordered some shades on sale from Crate & Barrel and they were around $10 each and anyone who has ever tried to track down some affordable & stylish sconce shades knows that is a deal.  Unfortunately I don’t see the shades I purchased on their website any more.

And here is the room with the new chandelier and new sconces.

sarah house dining room