The Cool House: powder room
Showing posts with label powder room. Show all posts
Showing posts with label powder room. Show all posts

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Suns Shine Down On Me

There they are - the powder room suns - waiting, lurking in the dark shadows

peeping out behind the door

Gazing bemused while I wash my hands

And, while I pee, the suns shine down on me - a little judgmentally I feel.

Wallpaper: Il Sole by Cole & Son sold through Lee Jofa

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Something old, something new...

Comments left on my recent post about the rehabbed powder room and also by The Handyman made me think I should explain in greater detail why we kept the fixtures we did and how I arrived at the plan for the new ones.

Like many projects in this house it was undertaken piecemeal. When I first thought about this room (2004) I was going to strip it completely, starting with the shag carpet, but we didn't have the budget to do it right away. I did, however, start formulating a plan. I could say it started with a doorknob but it was a little more complicated than that...

Between 2004 and 2006 we had a bunch of leaks, drips and other plumbing issues that resulted in a completely rebuilt toilet mechanism. When we decided to redo the powder this Spring room I didn't want to throw the WC out especially as the china looked good, it fitted the space and I'd spent more than the cost of a new loo getting it fixed.

One day in 2005 the ventilator broke and when put in a new one we also tried to fix the chandelier back to the ceiling. We couldn't and neither could any other contractor who has worked on the house. We knew it had to go when we redid the room, so eventually we swapped it out for one we already had.

I was going to rip out the vanity and replace it with this unit but the more I thought about it the less I liked it. For one, I'd lose precious counter space, then I'd have to possibly remove the mirrors and maybe re-texture the walls. Finally I wasn't sure I liked the bowl and faucet enough. In the end it seemed like too much money to spend to get something I wasn't 100% happy with. There was nothing wrong with the original cabinet so I figured why not get rid of the part I hated, the fake marble top with its clamshell sink and tiny faucet that only elves could operate, and keep the base.
The shag carpet bugged me every day. We wanted to wait until we remodeled the kitchen before we took it out but the longer we lived here the more remote that day seemed. Once we'd made the decision to keep the vanity and tile up to it there didn't seem much point in waiting any longer, we'd just get it done.

Then came my favorite part: shopping. Firstly I shopped for free in the "things I thought we'd use but never did" department aka a shelf in the garage. I found a chrome towel bar I bought for the boys' bath remodel that we couldn't fit in that space. Then I started spending money. I love Carrara marble and we've used it throughout the house to update other bits of furniture so that was an easy choice for the countertop. I made a paper template and took it to the stone guy up the road and he had it cut in two days.

The faucet I wanted, the Tara Classic from dornbracht would have cost a stress-inducing $918 but I found a much more reasonably priced version at There was a brief obsession flirtation with a red vessel sink but I think the one I chose out of necessity actually looks better here. It cost a little more but it compliments the marble really well.
Our ethos during the renovation of The Cool House has been to save as many original features as possible, to do as little harm as we can and accomplish it on the smallest feasible budget. Having said that I do like the occasional "wow" piece.

My designer neighbor once charitably described the old powder room as "not horrible", she hasn't seen the new version yet but I hope she will approve. There's a lot of old, a fair bit of new and some things borrowed from another room in this remodel and I think it all works together. I'm happy anyway.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bigger, better and more beautiful

sink before

When I left for Boston the powder room looked like this. The black faux marble countertop was scuffed and sucked all the light from the room. Even after we changed the light it was still a tiny space under the stairs.

toilet/floor before

The toilet was sitting on a white faux marble plinth that raised it to the height of the cream shag carpet. Funky, and not in a good way.

The day before I was to leave The Handyman said he could start the renovation. I wasn't about to let him go work on someone else's house just because I was out of town so I left instructions and The Guy in charge. Apparently there were a few minor hiccups along the way; there had been a leak under the carpet for some time and the floor behind the toilet had rotted (potentially a guest could have sat on the john and ended up in the basement, not what the sort of memory you want your guests to carry away with them) so some wood had to be replaced; the waste pipe had to be lowered so the floor could be tiled, which required some extra plumbing. These were unforeseen and cost both time and some extra money, but thanks to our meticulous and unfazeable handyman the powder room was remodeled by the time I returned to The Cool House.

floor and toilet after (towel reflected in mirror)

The floor had been tiled. The toilet re-installed and a new seat purchased for it. The Guy won't tell me how much it cost but The Handyman made him approve the expenditure because it was so expensive, so I'm guessing it wasn't $24.99.

paint after

The towel bar is attached to the wall (so much more useful than sitting in the cabinet) and the walls have had an extra coat of paint.

sink after

And most spectacularly, the real Carrara marble top, Oceana vessel sink and dornbracht look-alike faucet had been installed.
A full month after I wrote this it's done, completed, finished. I love everything about it. Those fixtures we kept, the original toilet, the black vanity and the huge mirrors no longer keep the powder room stuck in the 1970s. They've been magically transformed, the light reflecting in the mirrors from the marble, glass and chrome updates the space and makes the room seem twice as large as before. I swear I could dance in here now.
Only one teensy little problem: something that happened two years ago that we thought we had fixed, happened again the first time I used the loo. Those new guest towels I bought sure came in handy to mop up the mess.....

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back to The Cool House and the blog

So much to relate, but where to start?

With the wonderful things I saw while I was away?

Or with the fantastic progress made at The Cool House in my absence?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Powder room progress

The garage is filling up with fixtures for the downstairs loo facelift. I have the tiles, grout and the faucet; the countertop will be ready by tomorrow; the vessel sink should be here by the end of the week. I have the towel bar we didn't use in the boys' bath redo, a new latch and new knob for the vanity. I even have new hand towels, liquid soap and hand cream from Floris of London (on sale in TJ Maxx). I'm missing just two things: a replacement for the saddle we cracked putting up the light fixture (HD is out of stock until April 10 and the place where the countertop is being fabricated wants $21 more!) and a start date from my very-much-in-demand handyman.
I'd really like to get this room finished before May when the summer guests start to arrive. Please. Pretty please. Thank you.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Paint Your own Wallpaper

If you think moving flagstones is hard work, just imagine the hours that went into getting the masking tape straight so you could achieve this effect. I came across this idea for a painted striped wallpaper effect by Modern Self. Totally in awe right now.
via Master of Your Domain

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The power of democracy

red & black

After I mentioned I had asked the internet readership to help us choose a new vessel sink, the Guy announced he has a definite preference and that he is a Super Delegate and therefore gets two votes. I have a different choice of sink but as I threw it open I will of course abide by the majority's decision.

red crackle

He is concerned that I didn't give you a choice to state you think all four were horrible. So if you hate them all, have a better suggestion or have a reason why you favor one vessel sink over another send me a comment.

red marble

Each of the above has at least one vote.

red spiral

It seems no one is into the Red Spiral, are the swirls too distracting perhaps?

red Imprint with a #50 Paintbrush

To help us with the decision we visited Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today at the MoMA in Manhattan. It was a fabulous show, possibly the best I've seen there since they expanded MoMA, but we are no nearer reaching a concensus. More about the exhibition over here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Powder room: the lighting

I know it was probably a very expensive fixture, but no-one has been able to secure it to the ceiling, and a half-attached, rusty chrome and lucite chandelier is not going to add anything to the vision I have for the powder room.

I made The Guy swap the light fixture from our dressing room for this one. And guess what was underneath the chandelier? Great swirling 60s disco balls, it's more of the silver metallic wallpaper I found when I painted the room. Oh my eyes. This must have been fantastically fabulous back in the day.

It took two of us to take down the light. Then we got out the scales. It weighed 9.5 lbs.

We carefully peeled off the wallpaper. I'm going to make a scrapbook of all the wonderful wallpapers and tiles that decorated the house in 1968. I wish I could have seen it then. I had a moment's regret that I'd taken down the light, and the wallpaper, then I got back with the programme: bringing the decor into the 21st century.

When we put up the Facet Clip by Ron Rezek for Artemide light the room instantly looked cleaner, sharper and much bigger. The Guy complained, of course, about another of my crazy ideas but I get the satisfaction at the end of the project, of hearing him say "You know, you were right, it looks fantastic".
Of course I was honey, of course it does.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Do months have colours?

They do in my twisted mind. November has always seemed like a grey month and in that spirit I decided to paint the downstairs powder room a steely grey. The problem is that there are so many shades out there, even if I confine it to Benjamin Moore colors. Another Shade of Grey even has links to gray paints on her website. I was wary of making it too dark because it's a tiny space, I don't like greys with lavender undertones and I thought the blue-toned greys might not go with the faux marble vanity top (I can't wait to replace that baby with the real thing). So in the end I used Benjamin Moore Titanium, a grey with a greenish hue. It's the same paint I put on the dining room walls. And when I say same paint, I mean the half gallon we had left over from that project. I know it says to use the paint within six months but it won't be the first time I've let paint sit for a couple of years before throwing it on the walls, and we have already established I am a cheap lady. It isn't really steely but it looks stylish enough.
The best thing about painting this house is the surprise I always get when I take off the heating grills. The original Las Vegas on Acid 1968 wallpaper will be revealed in a tantalising 8"x6" strip. The half-bath did not disappoint: grey foil wallpaper with black squiggles and beige blotches. Groovy.

Foil wallpaper, powder room

And it's a good thing I didn't start this project in October - because that screams pumpkin orange.

Edited to add: I went back into the powder room after the walls dried and the are a great colour. Unfortunately the clean walls clashed with the filthy beige carpet. So I ripped it out. The plan is to redo that floor when we do the kitchen floor, which is looking further and further away and I am definitely not living with a disgusting carpet or with carpet tacks for the next year or two. Sooooo a solution will have to be found pronto.
At least it's Friday and we have all weekend to think of something.

powder room no carpet

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Forgive me voters

It's all my fault. I asked, you voted, The Guy was even persuaded by the power of democracy not to use his super delegate status and changed his vote from the Red Crackle vessel sink to the Red & Black, which was my favourite too. But something didn't seem quite right.
I spent all my free time haunting bathroom and home improvement stores trying to catch a glimpse of the four nominated vessel sinks. At Expo I was able to see the Red Spiral and it was way too modern for our space. I was also able to look at a black version of the Red Marble sink but it seemed weird to simulate marble in glass. It just didn't gel. Nowhere on my travels could I find either the Red Crackle or the Red & Black. I was getting desperate and just about to order the latter when it occurred to me to make a template of the vanity so I could better imagine the sink in situ. That's when I worked out what had been bothering me. The Red & Black vessel sink was 18" in diameter, the vanity top is a trapezoid 25"x33.5"x33"x11". The sink was just too damn big.
I don't know how this happened, after all I'd measured it twice. I knew the dimensions, but I'd been so caught up in the colour and pattern I just hadn't envisioned the actual space. The Red Crackle sink is 16 17/18" and for about 30 seconds I thought that would work. Then I came to my senses, dumped the whole splash of colour concept (that will have to come from the hand towels) and looked for something 15" or less. Guess what? There's not a lot out there. But there was one company that makes a glass vessel sink. One that I'd seen before, that was, in fact, the original inspiration for this room.

The 15" Oceana Black Nickel Glass Vessel Sink. It fits, it's in stock, it was on sale. And so, dear readers, I bought it. When it's right, jump on it.

I'm not ashamed to say I made a mistake in putting forward unworkable solutions for the powder room renovation, I apologise to those of you who invested time in voting for a vessel sink only to find your vote disregarded. I ask for your forgiveness and offer this piece of advice as much to myself as to you:
Measure thrice, purchase once.

Monday, April 03, 2006


or, what were they thinking?

Can you guess what the door on the right leads to? Remember that this my kitchen. So it would have to be a pantry? No. Stairs to the basement? No. Panic room?
Nope, it's....
wait for it....... yes, it's a powder room, also known as a half bath here. Just what you want in a kitchen.

Actually, it makes great use of the space under the stairs and it's directly under the master bathroom so the plumbing must have been a breeze. What really makes me wonder is they used carpet as flooring. Carpet? In a bathroom? In a loo that's in the kitchen? It's got to go, especially as the little overflow pipe thingy inside the cistern keeps jumping out of it's mooring when the WC is flushed and spraying the wall and the carpet. Soaking wet carpet. In the bathroom. In the kitchen. Lovely.