Saturday, November 5, 2011

Before & After - Master Bath

I am going to start the before and after posting with the master bath. After such a long and stressful renovation process, I've had to slow down a bit on the "decorating" part. So all of that "fun" stuff will happen at a much slower pace. The master bath is basically ready for a before and after because aside from my desire to install a window treatment of some sort and to add bath linens and perhaps a piece of art above the tub, it's complete. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the master bath was a very poor use of space. As you can see from these before and after plans, the space is challenging. It's only about 7' x 16'. It's very long and very narrow.  There are times when I would really like the name of the architect that created the late 1980s addition just so I can ask, "What were you thinking?" This second floor addition was a blank canvas of a huge 20' x 30' space and this drawing below is what he came up with for a master bath.

I'm sure we could have gone to a lot of extra time and expense and we could have completely reconfigured the entire area; however, our main focus was the first floor. The master bath was a last minute "add-on" because when moving around plumbing it's better to do both floors at once. So we decided to keep the master bath contained to it's original space. Below is the new plan.

In the former bath, most of the space was taken up by the ENORMOUS garden tub...

And then as you can tell from the "before" plan, there is a huge amount of wasted floor space in between the tub and the two tiny vanities across from each other.

There is also a very narrow shower, a toilet and a bidet in that separate little room off to the left.

In the new space, a large proportion of the space has been given to the ample 25 square foot shower.

On my quest for a marble mosaic tile, I found this Calacatta tile. It was a great alternative to the very expensive New Ravenna Cloud Nine mosaic found at Ann Sacks and Waterworks. Because we were trying to keep the focus on the main floor and kitchen, $50 per square foot for mosaic tile was not in the cards! You can find very gray and cool toned mosaics for much less, but I wanted a warm toned tile to go with the green I wanted to paint the walls. There are two mosaic insets on the front and back of the shower. The floor of the shower is the same mosaic as the floor in the bath. Because it is such a small space, I opted not to have a border on the bathroom floor...keep it simple. It's so beautiful all on it's own. I used a matching "pillowed" subway tile on the walls of the shower.

The edges are slightly lower than the middle of the tile. The subway tile is honed while the mosaic is polished for a little more contrast.

We love the addition of the hand held shower head...all plumbing fixures are from The Country Bath Collection by Rohl except for the Newport Brass sink faucets. Newport Brass faucets seemed a little more delicate for the vanity area. Don't be afraid to mix brands AND finishes. It's okay to have a mixture of nickel, brass and bronze in a space.

The once large tub space is now a wonderful and luxurious shower that is used by both of us everyday. Although my bath design firm tried to convince me to forego a tub in the master, I decided we should have a tub, not only for resale, but because in this large house of 4 1/2 baths, there is only one other tub. I opted for this space saving yet beautiful cast iron bathtub.

The tub is made by Cheviot Regal. It's the Finely Frugal approach to bathtubs. The tub of my dreams costs $10,000 at Waterworks. I am happy for a third of the cost. I've used it twice in 2 months! I did, however, insist on the true cast iron version. Those sensible male showroom people are not to be trusted on matters of style! You can see how shiny and cast iron it looks. No special effects on fiberglass can mimic the look and feel of the real thing. I apologize to the four very strong men it took to carry it up to the bathroom!

Instead of having 2 small separate vanities directly across from each other as in the original bathroom, we now have a nine foot long double vanity making for a much better use of space!

I chose an Imperial Danby white marble for the countertop and the shower bench and niches. It is a nice compliment to the Calacatta mosaic marble.  You can see how it's mostly white with a very subtle gray and green veining. It's a much warmer toned alternative to the now very popular Carrara marble. Carrara has become very gray because of over mining. The miners are now harvesting deeper and deeper and the marble is darker. It's amazing what a renovation can teach you! You can see the subtle warm veining below in this picture of my delicate Newport Brass polished nickel faucet.

For the bath hardware, I selected crystal knobs with polished nickel backplates.

However, I chose antique brass backplates for the matching crystal doorknobs because my light fixtures and other hardware in the adjacent bedroom are all brass. Again, it's preferable to not have all the same finishes.

Last but not least, for the lighting I chose these polished nickel and crystal sconces from Restoration Hardware.

We also have a vaulted ceiling in this one room so I had some fun selecting the Amphora Bell Jar pendants by Visual Comfort.

This reconfiguration of the same space has added such functionality to our bathroom. We have a small tub and a large shower and ample vanity space, the exact opposite of the previous configuration. Always think about how you will use the space when planning. As I said before, I've used the tub twice. We use the shower and the vanity several times a day.

So now for the finishing touches...

At some point, I will dress the window with an airy and light functional london shade like this one below.

For the blank wall to the left of the window, I've had my eye on the series of Beslers from Trowbridge Gallery. I think the silver leaf frame with a subtle gold border compliments both the cool and warm elements of the tile and fixtures. Placing one of these large prints on the blank wall will balance out the window. When we were planning out the renovated space, it so happened that the best and most efficient use of space would result in the bathtub not being centered with the window. We debated this issue for awhile, but in the end it became clear that in this process of give and take, we could work with that blank wall by adding a decorative element...and if I had not just mentioned it in  my blog, I bet no one would ever notice. So many times we fret about things that are totally unnoticed by most people!

Below are the Aubusson textiles based on the Besler prints. I like the softness of the framed textile in the bath. I've long admired both of these Trowbridge offerings so that's how I know they belong in my home and they're not just something to fill a space. Always take your time. A blank wall or missing light fixture is far better than a space filler.

With that being said, I am dreaming of Leontine Linens for the master bath and bedroom linens. The artistry is exquisite and unmatched and so I will wait patiently...

This one below is my personal favorite. I love the simplicity of the one large rectangular pillow. I love the monogram style....very unique!

And how precious for a girl's room...

 I usually take my time when designing my own spaces because I can. I'm the only one growing impatient with myself! It's much easier to design for a client where the space is not so personal and there is always an imposed deadline. So I'll have those $3 paper accordion window shades until I decide on just the right window treatments in just the right fabric. I'll be sleeping on the same old sheets and under my uncovered down duvet from Bed Bath & Beyond until I settle on and can afford just the right Leontine!

Recently, I've been reminded of what happens when I rush. You may remember my post about lighting. Well I've made a huge mistake and I'm going to be asking for opinions on possible remedies in my next post....

Until then,
~Finely Frugal

Friday, November 4, 2011

Details! Details!

Dear faithful readers, I am sorry for abandoning you for so long. It's been a crazy couple of months finishing up this renovation and easing into our first school year here. I've been tempted many times to actually post on another blog I set up long before this's more of a philosophical blog called "Perspective" and who knows, maybe there will be a post on there in the future. However, for know I'm going to stick with what I'm sure you all would prefer to opinions on interior design, not on life in general! Although, who knows which would actually be more entertaining?!?

It's no secret to those who know me best that I'm a details person. I notice the small things and I appreciate fine details. Perhaps this fact is the reason that I've been missing in action over the past couple of months. When you renovate a very old home, you've really got to pay attention to the details. One of the areas of the renovation that I put off until the end was the selection of the door hardware for the "new" doors in the renovated space.

Below is my beautiful 120 year old front door hardware! It does actually work, although it's definitely got a few quirks!

Inside the house there is a hodge podge of knobs like this one below. All of the original hardware is brass and over time has taken on a beautiful patina that absolutely cannot be duplicated by new manufacturing. Hardware companies have a variety of "examples" of their attempt at "antique brass". Nothing can take the place of natural elements over time...nothing!

After many trips to the local source for reproduction hardware and discovering that antique brass really only looks antique if it's, well....ANTIQUE, I spent hours at a local reclaimed hardware store in Wilmette, Illinois called Al Barr. I dug through bin after bin of doorknobs and backplates, latches and rosettes! My hands were tarnished and smelled of metal. When you embark upon something like this you have to be flexible. Going in, all I knew was I needed 6 knobs, 4 rosettes, 2 backplates and a latch. A few times I found 4 or 5 suitable and relatable knobs only to have to scratch that and start all over when the 6th could not be found. I had traveled to the local source for antique reproduction hardware several times where I could have ordered the exact quantities to suit my needs. However, they were not the same. Nothing can take the place of natural elements and time on brass. The new hardware even seemed lighter and not substantial in comparison to this old stuff. The price of some of the "higher quality" new hardware was comparable to the true antique hardware, so it was really all about the time it took to find the old stuff.  Now that it's finally installed, I'm so glad I took the extra time to do it right! Below is the powder room hardware I found at Al Barr.

And here are the pantry and coat closet knobs...

So simple, yet beautiful! For two months we had no knobs or locks on these sorry to our guests and the anxiety they must have experienced in the powder room!

In addition to door hardware, I tried to pay particular attention to plumbing fixtures. In the kitchen I chose this polished nickel bridge faucet by Newport Brass.

I love the artistry of the bridge design. I also love the detail on the knobs...

For the master bath I choose this tub faucet by Rohl.

More details with the master bath to follow in a before and after post this weekend. Below is  a sneak peak. Another wild goose chase, so to speak, was encountered by me on my quest for the mosaic tile on the floor. I needed it to be "not too gray" and not too expensive. Apparently, you can have really gray or really expensive and there's not a lot of "in between" due to the over-mining of carrara mable occurring these days. However, I found a compromise in a truly "Finely Frugal" fashion! That's a story for another day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Journey to Kenilworth and Our New Home circa 1891!

I think I was half out of my mind when I chose this house. You have to understand that I was totally thrown for a loop when I learned that I might be leaving Atlanta, my home of 42 years where we knew everyone and where we were very ingrained in the community. Our  children were in great schools with wonderful friends and as a mom, I knew how to navigate the world of activities ranging from  NYO pee wee football to piano lessons with the most quintessential piano teacher you can imagine! I knew who to go to for almost everything and I enjoyed being that person to whom others would refer for advice on such matters. I remember once a mom told me she called to get my take on something because I was the voice of reason...I'm laughing hysterically right now, especially after the day I've had!

Maybe I was just "too" comfortable or ever so slightly bored...I don't know? Surely, there is some underlying reason that I decided to take a risk and obliterate my "nest" to move to a suburb on the north shore of Chicago. Less than a month after that memorable Friday afternoon late last August,  I was house hunting in Kenilworth. Kenilworth is a village founded in the late 1800s. It's a very quaint and unique place full of beautiful old homes. After a very long weekend with a slightly impatient husband and three very tired children in tow, I chose this classic southern Greek revival home built in 1891. It's the only house out of the dozen or so we looked at in which I got my "vision"....ughhhh...such a curse. We looked at several other homes.

Architect George Maher, a Prairie School architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, was a Kenilworth resident and he designed many of the homes here in Kenilworth in the early 1900s. We looked at a few of these homes like the one pictured above and this one:

I was not accustomed to the prairie style, but I do find the homes intriguing.  I have such an appreciation for the historical components that lead to this very "new and innovative" architectural movement of the early 1900s. I particularly loved the interior of this home directly above. We could have moved right in. The owners had completed a beautiful renovation and although there was a new and fresh approach in the renovation, they stayed true to the historical architecture and style of the home.

This Dutch Colonial, another very popular style of home here, was also move-in ready. It was actually my first choice, but I did not trust myself in the decision making process as well as I normally do...I was feeling a bit out of sorts!

There were a number of lovely tudor style homes such as this one. I run by it daily and second guess myself. I might have had an inkling of a vision in this house, but it was time for lunch and everyone was rushing me! It's still on the market. Apparently there aren't that many visionaries looking at homes in Kenilworth. I think it could be spectacular!

Or this one below, which was my son's first choice. I do think it has the most curb appeal of all the homes we considered. It looks huge, but it's actually just one room deep. It's almost the inverse of our house which is very narrow yet deep.

And then there is this beautiful classic red brick georgian style home. Of all the homes, this one best matches my personal style. We did not choose this one because the needed renovation would not be contained to the interior. We would need to add on and I didn't think I was up for that. Some friends of ours bought it and they are currently renovating. I can't wait to see the finished product!

After journeying through this post and reliving the house hunting process it might be more clear to me now why we chose this classic Southern Greek Revival home. It was familiar and comfortable at a time when we had way too much change to process. It also needed "fixing" and I do love a project. The home was built in 1891 with a 1989 renovation that did not belong and was perhaps the most poorly planned use of space that I have ever seen. It was screaming for help! I feel like the existing home was a work of art with an "add-on" that detracted.  For instance, take a look at the master bathroom...

So this is a beautiful architecturally historic home and here is the 1989 master bath. No, that is not a small wading pool, it is the tub which took up the entire bathroom! The tiny sink vanities were directly across from each other with less than 3 feet of space in between. We had to be careful to stand straight and look directly ahead if we were both getting ready at the same time. The cornice above the window is almost aeronautical in style. These cornices were throughout the entire  master bedroom, too...with backlights!

And here is another close up of that tub that I took just before the sledge hammer totally demolished it!

As adventurous as we were and because we needed to move in before school started back in January, we put it under contract before we could even tell our friends and family we were moving. The next few months are a blur and on December 20, 2010 we moved in.

During the first two weeks, I was so busy moving in, celebrating the holidays, meeting neighbors, having house guests, learning how to deal with the snow and getting the children ready to start new schools and activities that I don't think reality had time to set in. Once the children started back to school, I looked around and thought, "What have we done?"

Maybe it's because I spent most of my time on my computer at my breakfast table....under this pool table/interrogation style light fixture:

When you are looking straight ahead, you can see the very dark and small kitchen which opens up into this gymnasium style breakfast room/family room. I never new gymnasium could be a style!  Maybe we should have installed a basketball goal and a pool table. The kids would be happy! And then there is this faux finish...

Need I say more?

So I thought I might go out of my mind, but on the recommendation of several new neighbors, I came across a wonderful kitchen and bath design company called Chester & Chester in Evanston, IL. That was in January. By March we had a plan and a builder, H/S Builders in Rolling Meadows, IL. The day after Easter we started demolition. Today the countertops began to be installed and by the end of the day on Thursday we should have appliances. I hope to have a fully functioning kitchen by next weekend! We have changed the gymnasium/granite and cherry museum of a family room and the garden room will be a media room in which I will exercise creative license like never before. I am painting it chocolate brown...everything, trim, built-ins, walls with a deep dark teal blue ceiling. The carpeting will be wall to wall seagrass and I will use a beautiful Baktiari Persian rug that I used in my previous family room. We renovated the master bedroom and added two closets and a deep window seat over looking the backyard.  We fixed that master bath! We now have a huge shower, small tub and a large double vanity. I can't wait to share pictures with you very soon!

So from all of this, as promised, helpful design tips are as follows:

1. Don't be afraid to take on a worthwhile project! It can be very rewarding! Stick with it and stay strong.

2. Always stay true to the design of a house. Juxtaposition is a great concept and I'm all for moderation!

3. Surround yourself with worthy and capable professionals like Chester & Chester and H/S Builders. Get recommendations from friends and get references. Actually call the references and check them out. Do your homework!

4. Always have a plan. You've got to begin with the end in mind for those Stephen R. Covey buffs out there. Yet, be process oriented....let the spaces evolve. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but find a designer that thinks this way. You need to end up with spaces that reflect the heart and soul of your family, not a hotel lobby effect.

5. Never lose sight of what's most important. People are most important. Your home will NEVER be perfect. Don't wait until it's perfect to have friends and family over to make the memories that make a house a home. Have friends over often. I can't wait to host all of our new friends! Old friends and family, let me know when you are on your way! Everyone is invited!

~Finely Frugal~

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Let There Be Light!

I really love chandeliers and sconces and bell jar pendants and lanterns...I love lighting! The picture above and these two following photos are from Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles April 2011 issue. Designer and homeowner, Elizabeth Elsey beautifully selected lighting for her home. All of the lighting is exquisite and each fixture relates to the space and with the other fixtures in adjacent rooms without being too contrived. 

I love the beautiful classic crystal chandelier in the dining room. The blue walls and gold mirror really showcase the crystals. Then she goes a different, but yet still classic, direction in the breakfast room with this simple lantern. I love lanterns above casual dining tables and above islands. 

 In the kitchen, a space that I assume is in close proximity to both the breakfast area and dining room, she chose bell jar pendants which compliment both the brass and crystal of the dining room chandelier and the clear pendant effect of the lantern. See how they all relate without being too similar?

One of the most daunting tasks for our current renovation has been choosing the light fixtures. Here in Chicago it seems you must either go to The Merchandise Mart and pay top dollar (even for the trade) or you must choose very mass manufactured looking pieces. In Atlanta there are so many antique sources, Circa Lighting which stocks mostly all Visual Comfort lines, The Big Chandelier ( I designed and purchased my chandelier here just prior to our glad I did!) and Masterpiece Lighting on 14th street. I've had to get a little more creative here. I've purchased most everything on-line either through Circa or directly from the Visual Comfort Lighting store. Below are a few photos of some of the fixtures I have chosen:
Family Room Chandelier

A double version of these sconces will hang above the mantel on each side of an oil painting.

A pair of these lanterns in bronze will hang above the island. The lanterns were an extreme "SAVE" as noted in the following paragraph. The family room chandelier and the breakfast room chandelier are slightly similar and are complimented by the lanterns and the sconces, but there are a variety of finishes...bronze, brass, aged iron, wooden beads. Again, it all relates without being too homogenous.

I saved the selection of the breakfast room fixture for last and I decided on this linear chandelier.

I had intended to save this topic until later, but one of my very favorite bargain "save" sources is One Kings Lane and they are having a Visual Comfort sale tomorrow! One Kings Lane is is kind of like a Bluefly for home decor. They have four or five new sales from different vendors daily.

I bought two of these beautiful lanterns for above my new kitchen island for 75% off the retail price!

Also, I thought you might like to see a sneak peek of the kitchen. This renovation is about to get the best of me, but it's almost finished! We are in the exciting phase right now. A lot is happening everyday. The countertop fabricator templated today. As soon as the countertops are installed the vent hood can go on and all of the upper cabinets can be hung. We've been without a kitchen since the day after Easter and I can honestly say that I can't wait to cook!!!

This is the view looking towards the refrigerator which is going in that empty space to the right. The stove and decorative range hood will go on the wall behind the island. Those lanterns will be hanging above the island with the range as the focal point in the background.
This is the view looking towards the sink. I chose a Shaw's apron front sink. I can't wait to see the upper cabinets installed. I'm waiting on the cabinets and then countertops to be completely installed before selecting my backsplash tile. It will be a plain subway tile, but I have not decided on cream like the cabinets or white like the sink. My countertop will be Imperial Danby white marble with gray and brownish gold veining from Vermont. It has a similar look to the Calacatta Gold Vein marble that is so popular right now. The Imperial Danby is apparently a little less expensive, yet more durable. We will see...we truly live in our spaces so I'm sure there will be some red wine or strawberry stains soon!

The picture to the right is the butler's pantry. I found the pretty brick pavers on-line through a vintage reclaimed brick company in Rockford, Illinois...Another SAVE!

The picture to the left is our breakfast room so far...waiting on countertop and then the upper cabinets can be installed. The sconces pictured above will be attached to the side of the cabinets on each side of this window and the one above the sink.

Anyway, enough about me and my project. I am going to leave you with a few more pictures of lighting I love and some great resources.....

 I love this simple lantern and the wicker chairs pictured in Southern Accents a few years ago. There is also beautiful natural light in this space!

 Also, from Southern Accents...You can't go wrong with a classic! Crystal chandeliers are a timeless touch in a formal dining room.

House Beautiful shows us a slightly overscaled example of lanterns above the island...a little too big in my opinion.

                          House Beautiful pictures this warm and inviting breakfast nook.

Again, another great example of lanterns above an island. These are very unique and quite nice with the wood beams.

I LOVE this foyer in a Charleston home featured in an old issue of Southern Accents. The bell jar pendants are simple yet elegant...perfect for a Charleston home!

It would be nice if we could all afford to go to ADAC or The Merchandise Mart and select Niermann Weeks chandeliers and the like, but that is only possible for a very few people I know! If you live in Atlanta, Savannah or Charleston you can go to Circa Lighting and see many Visual Comfort lines designed by Suzanne Kasler, Eric Cohler, Sandy Chapman and others. Otherwise you can go on-line and order them. Visual Comfort has very high quality timeless and classic fixtures. They are not cheap, but they are not exorbitant. If you go to the on-line store, do the on-line chat and ask them for a coupon code. The best case scenario is to find a fixture you like during a One Kings Lane sale! I also like Ballard Designs and Shades of Light. They both have great websites with lots of lights and shades. The prices are great!

Two more great Atlanta sources where you can actually see the fixtures are Masterpiece Lighting and The Big Chandelier. They are very near each other on 14th Street in Midtown. The Big Chandelier is great because they have refurbished vintage fixtures and some new pieces that you can customize. Check out all of these great sources...I'd love to hear your success stories!

~Finely Frugal~