Bathroom Renovating- Planning a full gut job versus a partial remodel

When we do bathroom remodels we typically do gut jobs.  Most are over 20 years old and we remove everything: the tile, fixtures, plumbing, cabinetry.  With the room completely empty we are able to renew the mechanicals, improve the layout and built a completely new bathroom with no limitations.  Occasionally though, we are faced with the challenge of the partial bathroom remodel.  Such was the case with our recent project, Berwyn Bath.

Our clients originally called us in to install floor heat.  The thought was to tile right over the existing tile and leave the rest alone.  And then we began discussing the bathroom and it’s function and look.  The original bath was nice- large, unoffensive with a scheme of white a blue.  There was a door at the end of the bath that connected to a second bathroom.  My client actually liked this door as she used it as her route to the laundry room.

berwyn bathroom from frontView of the original bathroom looking at the door to the 2nd connecting bathroom.

One major CON for me was the shower size.  Itty bitty for a bath so big.

berwyn bath original shower

Another problem was the under-used vanity area…

vanity makeup

The two sink bases were OK, but the corian tops were a little tired.  As for the cabinetry, the white color wasn’t a problem, but the big sink cabinets and lack of drawers weren’t very functional.  Also, the tri-plex medicine cabinets, while full of storage, were creating seams in all the wrong places.

original bathroom vanity

After reviewing the PROS and CONS of the bathroom we explored SEVERAL different layout options.  In some versions we kept the cabinetry, in some we changed it.  We looked at expanding the shower, removing the tub, and even building a whole linen armoire.  We really kicked the tires to explore our options and provided cost estimates to our clients’ to help them decide which plan was best for them.

berwyn bath original floor plan


large tub, small shower, toilet and bidet, door to 2nd bathroom


berwyn bath plan 1


Large shower, close off door to 2nd bathroom,

2 new vanities (1 in new location under window,)

built-in linen cabinetry.  remove tub

privatize water closet with toilet and bidet.


berwyn bath plan 2


Large shower, close off door to 2nd bathroom,

keep sink vanities as they are and replace countertops

built-in linen cabinetry.  remove tub and replace with make-up vanity desk

Keep toilet and bidet in original locations.


berwyn bath plan 3


Large shower in new location, Keep door to 2nd bathroom,

keep sink vanities in their locations but update cabinetry and countertops

Keep tub.  Built-in Linen cabinet in location of old shower

Remove Bidet


We had several discussions with our clients to determine what was really best for them and what they needed.  Ultimately we came to a few big decisions… 1. The door to the 2nd bathroom could go, but the bidet needed to stay.  2.  The expense of removing the tub and replacing it with something else wasn’t valuable to them, so the tub would stay.  3.  Built-in linen cabinetry was beautiful, but more than they wanted to spend at this time, so we would do a furniture armoire instead.  4.  Vanity cabinetry would be updated and tailored to their specific storage needs.

This is the final plan…

berwyn final floor plan

With the space planning figured out, we were able to finalize the fun stuff: tile, cabinetry, countertops, lighting, hardware and paint colors.  Then I handed over the reigns to the construction team and dad and the boys went to work turning our plans into reality…

Day 1

berwyn bath day 1

2nd week

shower framed

3rd Week

shower tile begins

4th Week

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The bathroom is done now and let me tell you it is fabulous!

But we couldn’t have gotten there without figuring out the floor plan first.

Full Reveal Coming Soon!

One Room Challenge, Week 2: The Essentials

Here we are again, One Room Challenge!  If this past week didn’t break me, then there is a good chance I’ll make it through this whole process.   In the past 7 days I… flew back from Mexico, came home to a back-log of work, fought off a cold, painted my butt off and moved most of my belongings into the Cottage.  Beginning my bedroom makeover on top of all of this was extremely daunting, but I’m just trying to break it down piece by piece, week by week.

Last week I painted the walls and came up with a design scheme, so this week was all about setting up the essentials- bed, shades, and nightstands.  It feels so good to see the room to take shape!

Monday night we installed my new bed.  It’s the high Malm from Ikea.  I love the crisp white against my teal walls.

orc week 2 bed nighstand

For nightstands, I am re-using my Rast cabinets (also Ikea) that many of you may recognize from my loft.  Yes, these are $30 unfinished wood cabinets that I hacked to black and gold perfection.  These guys have been in storage for a year and I was so happy to see them again!!  Please check THIS POST if you want to know more about these cabinets.

orc week 2 ikea nightstand rast

It’s important to me to have a good balance in my bedroom between organic elements and colorful elements.  With my lacquer cabinets, teal walls, and white bed dominating one wall, I opted for natural woven wood shades on my windows.  I like how they tie into the floor well and filter just the slightest amount of light through them.  (No need for lining, which means they are prettier from the outside.)

orc week 2 woven wood shades bay window

The best part about the shades?  Tops down, Baby!  I love having light in the room while still having privacy.  I absolutely detest bedrooms that have the blinds shut 24/7, so I splurged on these for my master.  You can find them HERE.  I chose Franca Walnut and I’m really happy with them.

orc week 2 shade detail

Since I will be using the adjacent room as a dressing room,  (I know, I’m lucky!) I don’t plan to put a dresser in the bedroom.  Instead, I want the room to have very few furnishings.  I put my little carved wood console table near the slanted corner,  and I plan to add a tree in front of the 4th window.

orc week 2 other corner

I just love this table!  It’s another dash of boho to balance out the prep.  I plan to add a mirror and style the tabletop, of course.

orc week 2 console table

Here is a floor plan.  Benches at the end of the bed and a bed for Bailey will round out the furnishings for this room.


That’s it for me this week!  Check in with my friends below to see how everyone else is tackling week #2



Chinoiserie Chic

Classic Casual Home 

the Cottage Mix

Cottage & Vine

Design Indulgence

Everything LEB

Hodge Podge

Kim Macumber Interiors

Little Black Door

Matters of Style

My Crafty Home Life

Nicole Scott Designs

Pacific Family Homes

Pawleys Island Posh

the Peak of Tres Chic

the Pink Pagoda

Powell Brower Home

Simple Details

Coming Up Next Week:
Curtains will make a world of a difference and really frame my windows next Wednesday.
Previous Bedroom Updates

Cottage Talk: First Floor Plan

Guys, I must admit to being a tad overwhelmed right now.  Between the blog, a hefty workload, my own cottage renovation, and holidays on the horizon I just feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around.  But this is just the way life goes- most of the time its too crazy and once and awhile its too damn slow and I guess I’m OK with all of that.  So forgive me while I quit the internet today and take care of other business.

Here’s my 1st floor Plan and a few thoughts on the matter.  Talk amongst yourselves.

Entrance Doors: Both front and back doors are smack middle of the cottage which is highly annoying for furniture and kitchen placement.  No they are not moving- I have STONE Walls.

Sofa:  The sofa is off-center from the window in order to fit an end table to the left of it.  Don’t worry- I’ll mask that difference with curtains!

Powder Room:  Lots of people had opinions on a potential first floor powder room. I ultimately decided there wasn’t space for it.  I prefer to have a decent-sized kitchen.  There will be a PR in the basement.  Not as convenient, but at least I’ll have two potties.

Kitchen Layout:  There was equal internal and external debate over the kitchen layout.  I toyed with the sink in the island, a peninsula dividing dining room from kitchen, expanding the kitchen into the dining space.  Ultimately I chose to keep the kitchen in its original footprint because it felt the appropriate scale for the 1st floor.  Perhaps I’ll share some of the rejected ideas next week.

Furniture:  I’m planning to re-use all of my furniture.   There will be quite a few makeovers, though.   The console table and server are still iffy as I’m hoping to acquire a few pieces from my Nana.  I’ll know more about that on Monday!

Scale:  Furniture placement and size was very important to me.  Since the space is small, I want it really functional, but I really want it to feel open and flow well too.  This mean a smaller table, smaller side chairs and selective furnishings.

** Update ** Table: Forgot to mention I’m inheriting a round table from my mom that has leaves.  SO great for a small space.  It will be round most of the time, but can expand to oval for my imaginary dinner parties I’m sure I will throw some day.

So there ya have it- my 494 Square foot first floor and how I plan to use it.

See BEFORE photos of the First Floor HERE.

Exorcising the Demons

All of us design lovers are a little crazy when it comes to our own spaces.  Personally, I treat my own home design a little bit like therapy for myself.  I soul search, I rearrange, I tweak and I agonize until it feels “right.”  A change in mood or lifestyle for me can mean complete upheaval for the loft.  The past few months have been really difficult for me, personally, and I find that I’ve turned to my apartment as my coping method.  Not only is it the place I can retreat to when I need to hide away from the world, but it’s also my palette to express myself.  I rationalize that in times of pain or loss, it’s important to find one’s voice.  Well my loudest voice is my design personality, and I’m letting her roar.

(Old Furniture Plan)

In the quest for perfection-or maybe just a little clarity- I’ve been scrutinizing every inch of my apartment.  It’s not only about what looks pretty, but also what functions well.  Last week I started moving things around.  Actually I moved EVERYTHING.  All the snapshots you’ve seen?  No longer exist.  And while I’d like to claim it’s been a complete success, instead I feel like I’m living amongst chaos.  Spare tables and chairs are lying around in the middle of my loft.  My desk and bench can’t seem to find the right home. If my apartment is my voice, does that mean I am completely nuts?

(Present Furniture Plan)

It’s a domino effect.  First I moved my Eames lounge to my open, awkward entry area.  I LOVE it. I think these chairs look best on their own, and it’s the perfect reading spot.  Next I wanted to re-purpose my office nook, as it wasn’t getting used and the whole area was pissing me off.  I moved my bookcase over there and it looks fab.  But bookcases look good anywhere.  Meanwhile desk may go where it’s shown in the new plan, but I really prefer bench there.  I need something for the wall to the left of the Eames, but desk is too deep.  I keep running in circles.  (And hurting my back hauling furniture by myself.)

This post is not about my solution, it’s about my intention.  I plan to exercise my demons and I am determined to win.  By the time the crisp breezes of fall are upon us, I WILL be finished my living area.  After all, there is only so much time I can spend analyzing and feeling stuck.  Life moves forward, and so shall I.

Are you feeling stuck in your own home design? (or life for that matter?)  Let’s motivate eachother, okay?  Deal.

Happy Monday.


Space Planning, Furniture Layouts + Photos of My Loft

Hallelujah, it’s Friiiiiday!  Before I sign out for the week, I thought we could talk about my apartment.  So, I’m still not ready to show you guys the decor of my new pad.  Great things take time, right?  But I thought it might be interesting to learn a bit more about the space planning process.

I love shelter magazines, but to me, their one downfall is they focus too much on detail shots and don’t always show you enough of the whole room.  I want to know not only what makes a room pretty, but what makes a room work.  What did they do with that awkward corner?  How far apart is that sofa from those chairs? What else is happening in the room?  Details make good pictures, but layouts make good life.

Every space has it challenges.  In small spaces you have to get creative with storage.  In narrow spaces you have to choose the right furniture that won’t crowd rooms.  And in large spaces, you have to massage the furniture layout to make sure pieces fill up the room appropriately.  My space is big.  Pretty much a big square box with lots of juts.

Allow me to show you my floor plan….

So what would I do with 525 square feet of open living room?
One thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t going to push everything against the walls, leaving a vast expanse in the middle of the apartment.  I needed to float furniture and create areas.  Living area, dining area, entry area, office area… all in one big room.
The first thing I think about when designing a space plan is, What do you see when you walk in the door?  For me, its a bunch of ugly black beams that break up the kitchen.  (This place used to be a factory, so there are a lot of beams in odd places!)  This is the ugliest angle in the whole apartment, so I knew I wanted to distract the eye with other elements.  I decided that placing the dining area in front of the kitchen would help fill the space and take the focus away from the beams.
Once I’d selected my dining area, I thought about where I should position the living room.  The dressing room really cuts into the left side, so the right side made the most sense for fitting a seating area.

You should know that I’m a TV watcher.  Not a crazy amount, don’t judge, but enough to want to organize my living room in a way that is conducive to seeing my television.  It is important to me that the TV be viewable, but NOT be the focal point.  I want the other good stuff to stand out at me!  There is this strange built-in niche on the right wall.  It’s big enough to hold a TV so it feels less obtrusive.  So the TV found a home.

So how would I handle the odd left wall?  This wall juts in and out awkwardly due to my very large walk-in closet.  No worries, just an opportunity to create more zones.  I love being able to carve out a cozy office nook in this big open loft.  Looking forward to finishing my “officette”!

So last but not least, I mapped out the front wall… my welcoming zone!  I’ve always wanted both an entry bench and an entry console, but have never had the space before.  Now~ even though I don’t technically have an entry~ I have the most spacious entry ever.  It’s awesome.  Well, it will be if I ever hang my art wall.  Why is hanging Art So Very Daunting?
Next I laid out my thoughts and created a floor plan.  To scale of course.  I must say I love it lots.  It’s lofty and spacious yet still cozy and homey.  Each space has a purpose and I enjoy every section of my pad.  I find myself purposely going over to my entrance bench, just because I enjoy it so much.  (I try to love all my furniture equally, but let’s be real, my sofa gets the most attention.) 

I am also using a lot of rugs to help designate spaces. (The dotted rectangles are rugs)  It has a lovely warming effect. You’ll see.

I had a moment where I wanted the TV niche to be bookshelves instead, and I moved the sofa so that it faced the front wall. But it just didn’t work for me.


So, tell me, do floor plans fascinate you too?  What about the layout?  How would you have set up my space?
OK, I’m off.  Thanks so much for all of you who’ve checked in this week.  It’s pretty cool that there are so many people out there, across the country, across the world, that share my love for design.  Thanks for sharing your time with me!
I’m pumped to make moves this weekend.  Woot woot!  Gotta whip this place into shape so I can show something other than blank walls and bad I-phone pics!