Saturday, January 29, 2011

Birthday Boy

My youngest chaos contributor turned 2 today.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Floor Tile Saga

This is what I have learned so far about remodeling:  If you plan ahead, address every little detail, stay organized, and oversee things every step of the way, your remodel will be perfect practically perfect good enough.

Case in point:  the floor tile.

You may recall that I reluctantly abandoned my dream of a marble floor for the practicality, ease and, let's be honest, the price tag of porcelain.  I chose this beautiful 6 x 24 tile ...

which I blogged about here.  What I failed to elaborate on in that post was the trouble I went through to get the tile. 

The Italian-made tile was being discontinued, and my local tile store did not have the 6 x 24 size available.  I really thought the size and shape of the tile gave it character that couldn't be achieved with a good ol' 6 x 6.  So, the search began...

I hunted on the internet for days, and finally, I located the tile at a store in Alabama.  I called the salesperson, who was extremely friendly, and as luck would have it, had recently installed the same tile (different color) in his home.  After raving about how wonderful it was, he entered my order into the computer, and ... it was out of stock.

Now, I don't know what it is about being told that you can't have something, but for me it makes me want it even more.  I was on a mission, and if it meant I had to fly to Italy (eat some fabulous food, tour some ruins and buy some leather handbags), I was getting that tile. 

After a lot more research, I was able to locate the tile online and have it shipped.  It was quite nerve-racking ordering something heavy and fragile from a place with no return policy and a lot of fine print about how they're not responsible for anything.  I was so happy when it arrived unscathed and was gently unloaded in our garage. 

If you looked in my garage, you would believe that I am running a daycare center for at least 100 children.  The place is bursting at the seams with bikes, sports equipment and ride-on toys of every make and model.  The only space available for tile storage was directly in front of my car.  For months I have been gingerly parking my car, careful not to bump my precious tile.  I was so glad when the tiling process started, so I could stop worrying about crushing it in a head-on collision.

On Wednesday, the installers came and started laying out the brickwork pattern of the tile.  I don't think they had been working on it more than 30 minutes, when they told me there was a problem.  Apparently a lot of the tiles were warped and would not lay flat.  I felt a panic attack coming on.  My mind was racing.  "I've had the tile for months.  I can't return it.  I LOVE that tile.  Where the heck did I even order that tile?"  The tile wasn't the only warped thing.  I couldn't think straight.

The installers tore out tiles they had already put in and left for the day, so that I could think about what to do.  After some seething cursing deep breaths, I logged onto and sent out an S.O.S.  If you have never been to this website, you are missing out.  They have a home forum for every topic imaginable.  I went to the bathroom forum, posted a question about 6 x 24 tiles, and within a couple of hours, had several life-saving responses.

Here's the deal.  Large format tiles have special needs.  There are new guidelines to deal with their special needs.  If you want to know specifics, shoot me an e-mail.  Otherwise, in the interest of not boring you to death (if I haven't already), let's just say there was a good solution for working with them.  There will be some slight "lippage," but it's hardly noticeable.  Good enough!

The installers came back and installed the tile in the new pattern and voila...

(Excuse the dark pictures.  There is no electricity in the room, which makes lighting an issue.)

Should you be planning a remodel in the near future, my suggestions to you are:  don't give up on getting what you want; don't panic; and have resources available to troubleshoot problems that arise.

I am so proud of myself.  Not only did I get the tile I wanted, but I've now completed my first novel.  Thank you for reading it.  Hello?  Are you still there?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things Are Heating Up

On a cold winter's day, it's nice to know that we are one step closer to toasty toes.  The heated floors were installed on Tuesday ...

 Mesh mats containing the heat coils were cut and applied to the floor.

 Then Thinset was poured over it...

A word to the wise:  If you plan to have Thinset poured in your home, stay far away from it.  I was the idiot who slept in the adjacent room, and 2 days later I still have a headache from the fumes. 

Speaking of headaches, stay tuned to read about my tile crisis.  I'll fill you in on the gory details tomorrow, but for now I'm going to take two aspirin and go to bed...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let There Be Light

I had a nightmare recently.  A woman told me I wasn't getting any younger, forced me to stand in front of a mirror and look at my face under a can light.  "See how terrible that looks," she said.  It was a terrifying experience, and unfortunately, I wasn't asleep. 

I was in a lighting showroom.

How foolish I had been a mere 5 minutes earlier when I thought I could breeze into the showroom, order some sconces and can lights and be on my merry way.  I mean what could possibly be so scary about a lighting showroom.  Scary places are dark. 

"Oh no.  This just won't work," said the certifiable certified lighting designer when I showed her the design plans.  The issue lies with the cabinet design.  You may recall that it looks like this...

See the problem?  No?  Allow me to enlighten you.

In the drawing, you'll notice there are 4 columns with sconces on each one.  The columns are 8 inches out from the mirror.  Apparently, optimal lighting for grooming requires two sconces on either side of one's face, flush with the mirror.  The way our space is configured, if you leaned in close to the mirror, the light would be behind you.  That's a no no.  You may think, as I did, that the solution would be a can light over the mirror.  That's a big NO NO, according to the CLD.  Can lights create shadows, and women of a certain age, should not put make up on in the shadows.  We need to shed light on our imperfections so we can properly conceal them.

Needless to say, the CLD scared me.  My lighting oversight had ruined the whole project, and I was doomed to leave the house looking like a clown for the rest of my life.

I spent the next few nights weeks, waking in the middle of the night, having panic attacks about bathroom lighting.  I finally decided that I had to let go of the fear, pick out the lights I wanted, and live with my decision.  So, here is what I did.  I went to Restoration Hardware, and got these pretty sconces...

I had the electrician install a can light above each mirror.  And, I had him run an extra wire in the event that I decided to get one of these...

Kimball and Young

Phew... that was a long one.  Now it's your turn.  What lighting do you have in your bathroom?  Do can lights scare you?  Are you afraid of the dark?  Are my fears justified, or should I lighten up?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Making Progress

The remodel is progressing nicely despite the electrician being late for work.  And, I don't think it's because he overslept or got a flat tire.  He's over a WEEK late to work.  (He was replaced today by Marty the Plumber's brother.)

The demo is complete.  The plumbing has all been moved.  The water closet (yes, I'm still calling it that!) is framed and drywalled.  The pocket door system has been installed.  The shower is framed and the bench is built.  The cabinetry is built and being painted.  And now that we have an electrician, things should start rolling along pretty quickly.  

Thought you might be interested in how things are looking today...   

The shower is framed and plumbed...

The soffit has been removed, which really makes the room seem bigger and brighter...

Between the windows, the tub filler pipes are installed...

New drywall was installed on the upper portion of the walls.  Board and batten wainscoting will be installed over the still-wallpapered part of the walls...

That's the latest from the construction zone.  I have to stop typing so I can cross my fingers that the electrician is on time tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mother Knows Best

Remember all the beautiful white bathrooms from my inspiration photos that I blogged about here?  Well, one of my absolute favorite rooms is from Atlanta-based designer, Lori Tippins.

I fell in love with the gorgeous mosaic marble floor tiles she used, and contacted her to determine exactly what size they were.  I was so excited to get the same tile for my bathroom.  That is, until I told my mother. 

Now I don't know how your mothers are, but you shouldn't ask my mother something unless you want the cold, hard truth.  Her response went something like this:  "Oh Carolyn, you can't possibly be serious about a white floor.  You're never going to be able to keep that clean.  It's totally impractical."  When she accompanied me to the tile store, she repeated that sentiment to the salesman.  "She can't have a white floor with all that hair of hers.  When she blow dries it, it will be all over the floor, and she's not a very good housekeeper."  Well, then, I'm glad the tile guy was filled in on my dirty little secrets.  Thanks for sharing, mom.

Deep down, I knew she was right had a point, but sometimes having to be practical really stinks.  I spent the rest of my time in the tile store half-heartedly looking at "other" options, while secretly stealing glances at all that beautiful mosaic marble that wouldn't be gracing my floors.  Pity party!

Dave, my tile guy, was giving me all kinds of practical porcelain to choose from.  Nothing was peaking my interest until he pulled out a sample tile I never would have considered.  It was called "Ceramica Pitti."

The tile is 6 x 24, and looks like it could pass for a painted wood floor.  It is mostly blue with hints of green and even pink in it.  With so much color, it surely won't expose any dirty little secrets.  Pitti party!

I couldn't completely abandon my marble dreams, so I chose this gorgeous ming green marble and glass mosaic as a shower accent.

The shower floor will be done in this beautiful tumbled 2x2 carrara marble.

Although it was difficult to give up my original dream, I am really excited about the floor tile.  I think it will look unique, pretty and of course, it won't show dirt and hair (ewww...), so I guess being practical isn't so bad.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, my mother was right.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pardon me, but do you speak Plumber?

You know that annoying toilet tissue commercial where the women are telling us it's time to get real about what happens in the bathroom?

Well, no one is more honest about that than a plumber.

There are various terms used for the toilet area of a home.  Some call it the loo, lavatory or privy.  My preferred term is water closet. 

Better Homes & Gardens

When I first met our plumber, Marty, I used the term "water closet" several times throughout our conversation.  He finally looked at me and said, "Okay, so your crapper is going in that corner?"  Well, that's one way of putting it.

Another time I was inquiring about how many CFMs the bathroom vents should have.  Marty said, "Well, I'd get 130 for the shower area, but all the crapper needs is a little fart fan."  In a house full of boys, you'd think I'd be used to this language.  But, somehow hearing it from giggling young boys is different.

There's something about a person seeing the innards of your pipes that makes him feel like family.  So I felt compelled to break through the language barrier and make Marty feel at home.  When I was giving him an update on the plumbing supplies I'd ordered, I said, "The crapper's being delivered tomorrow, and the fart fan will be here next Tuesday."   The look on his face said it all.  We were finally speaking the same language.

I know this blog is meant to be about design.  But, perhaps if you're designing a bathroom in the near future, you may want to learn to speak Plumber and get real about what happens in the bathroom.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Here's The Plan, Stan

Four posts in and I'm already a blogging slacker!  I apologize to you (all 12 of my loyal followers) for being MIA this week.  The remodel is in full gear, and it's been total chaos around here.

Today I'm going to share with you the plans for the remodel.  If you choose to view these, you must promise not to point out any discrepancies between the plan and the finished product.    Of course, if the outcome is better than the plan, feel free to tell me that as much as you wish.

(Warning!!  Do not attempt to read the fine print.  Doing so could lead to such complications as blurred vision, eye strain, or complete frustration.)

The shower is an open-concept, curbless, doorless shower.  I love that I won't have glass to clean, but I am a little nervous about the chill factor.  Hopefully, the new heated floors will keep the room toasty. 

The new cabinetry will be painted white, and will give us more storage than we previously had.  I am most excited about the appliance garage, where I will stash all my junk and pretend that I am a very neat and tidy person. 

So that's the plan.  I hope you like it.  If you don't, don't tell me, because it's too late to change it :)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Finding Inspiration

I thought I'd take a break from posting pictures of our demolished bathroom, and treat you to some eye candy.  When we decided to remodel our master bathroom, I scoured the web for some inspiration.  These are a few of the rooms I drooled over discovered... 

David Duncan Livingston Photography
Designer Lori Gilder via decorpad

Brooke Giannetti


Eric Roth

Designer Lori Tippins via decorpad


Are you sensing a recurring theme here?  Apparently, I am drawn to soft, white rooms with marble, pedestal tubs, pretty lighting and a vintage feel.  I have always loved warm colors and stone, too, so it's possible I could have gone in a completely different direction.  However, this space will serve as my respite from the chaos abounding throughout our home, and I like the calm, peaceful feel these rooms exude.  I'm already imagining myself tuning out the whining/fighting/rough-housing.... ahhhh....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Under Construction

Break out the orange cones and yellow caution tape, because the master bathroom is officially under construction.  Two days of demo, and the room now looks like this...

As messy as it looks, I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by how neat the crew has kept things.  I thought there would be layers of dust in the surrounding rooms, but alas, it's only as dusty as it usually is around here.

The cabinetry, bathtub, shower and toilet have left the building... 

So far the only thing that's been disconcerting about the reno is sleeping inside this plastic-wrapped room.

If you're a "Dexter" fan like me, you'll understand what I'm talking about...

The bathroom isn't the only thing under construction.  I'm still working to make this blog the way I want it to be.  My dear friend, Lori from Fresh Picked Whimsy came over today to show me the ins and outs of blogging.  (Thank goodness she is a patient person!)  Lori is an extremely talented artist/illustrator, and has offered to make me a banner for my blog.  I know with her help, it's going to look fabulous!

So, please pardon my dust for a little while longer.  I promise the blog (and bathroom) will be looking better soon.  I am so excited to share all the design elements I've chosen for the room, and I'd love to hear from you, too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bathing Beauty

Apparently there was a competition in the late 80s for the biggest bathtub.  The original owners of our house probably did a victory lap in this baby.  

This bathing beauty is literally under spotlights and takes up a sizable chunk of our 15' x 15' bathroom.  It is surrounded by white carpet which is always a smart design choice.

Perhaps in an effort to keep it from upstaging the tub, the shower was banished to the water closet.

Don't get me wrong.  I definitely appreciate the benefits of a good hot soak.  But, I am looking forward to downsizing the tub to this ...

Victoria & Albert's York Tub

It will be moved out of the center of the room, so the shower will get to come out of hiding.  Of course, it will still make a really nice focal point, and with a chandelier centered over it, it could be a real showstopper... I wonder if I could enter it in a contest... 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Feeding My Addiction

Hi.  My name is Carolyn, and I’m an addict.  If I’m honest with myself I know that my addiction began when I was just a child spending hours decorating Tuesday Taylor’s Townhouse and Barbie’s Summer/Winter home.  My college roommate shared my addiction, and we would spend the first few days of each school year decking out our dorm room.   Of course, we were new to the fix and short on cash so our “d├ęcor” wasn’t much more than a life-size Bob Marley poster, album covers doubling as wall art and a foam futon. 
The older I got, the harder it was to quit.  The advent of HGTV and monthly magazines delivered to my door made it impossible to kick the habit.  Candace and Sarah were always around to give me a fix.
I was keeping the addiction under control… just making small cosmetic changes here and there, but a few months ago, my husband (the enabler) agreed we could move forward on a total remodel of our master bathroom.  I spiraled out of control… logging countless hours in Blogland with the likes of other addicts.  Velvet and LinenHouse of TurquoiseThings That Inspire, The Lettered Cottage  …. each encounter fueling the addiction.
I can’t fight it anymore.  I'm hooked.  So I’ve decided to embrace it.  From now on, I'll be feeding my addiction with my blog, Sweet Chaos.  I’m hoping I can help other addicts, and together we can be open and honest about our addiction to design. J