a light, bright, black & white bathroom

In late November, approved I posted about our upstairs bathroom after all our new tile and fixtures went in. We went without a toilet upstairs for longer than I wish to think about, thanks to some nightmare shipping incidents. I’m pretty sure my BFFs over at FaucetDirect.com will come to my next birthday party since we’ve spoken on the phone so much, and they were an absolute pleasure to deal with. UPS, on the other hand, YOU ARE UNINVITED. No cake for you.

Once the toilet was in, I couldn’t wait to paint the walls and wainscoting. For the wall color, I was super inspired by DIY with ADD, who originally painted her bathroom light grey but added dramatic charcoal walls to punch it up. I went straight for the high drama and used “Toucan Black” by Benjamin Moore in a semi-gloss, with “Simply White” molding. Speaking of, I sure would like to see ADD start blogging again!

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Thrilled with our new skylight, I wanted to draw attention to the height of the ceiling and its great view — it’s hard to tell in this photo, but there’s an old-school glass pyramid at the top of the skylight, which I love. So we hung a matte black curved shower bar close to the ceiling and hung an airy 95″ white waffle shower curtain with fabric liner for a luxurious tailored feel (thanks to John & Sherry at Young House Love for that tip!).

Oh, and I added a nostalgic nightlight — which just happens to be from my childhood bedroom. :)

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I learned about this awesome adjustable Simple Human shower caddy from Anna at Door Sixteen. It’s really awesome and I conveniently picked mine up at the Container Store on 6th Ave in Chelsea. See how there are spots to hold inverted bottles too? GENIUS.

The little red metal shelf unit is from IKEA and is just a temporary spot to stash our most frequently used bathroom goods and bring a little color to the black & white space.

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I’d really like to warm up the bathroom a bit with some natural elements — maybe swap out the red unit for a wooden one, add some shallow wooden shelves to the wall above the toilet, maybe hang some air plants from the skylight grate? But artwork, I’m not quite sure yet. I do have something up my sleeve for now, and it definitely involves some of these:

my little crassula portulacaria...a quorum
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limestone renovation: vestibule makeover!

One year ago this week, about it I submitted my offer to buy a Brooklyn limestone. It’s hard to forget how nervous and excited I was – from the moment I walked in the door at the open house, pharmacy I just knew this was it. Instant love. That’s not to say I didn’t feel like fainting after submitting the offer. Oh no. I did.

For me, old houses are super romantic and inviting. I think it’s their architecture that really does it for me – the welcoming stoop, the gracious high parlor ceilings – and certainly the vestibule that offers warmth and escape from this un-springlike cold snap we’ve been having in NYC! Seriously – how is there a chance of snow tonight?! So to make the house a little more cozy and inviting, I’ve been planning and pinning and spending time giving our little vestibule a makeover!

Initially I thought this would be a small project. Maybe a weekend at most? Riiight. I am slowly learning there is no such thing as “small projects” in the land of old houses. But I’ve been trying to take my time and do it right. Though the before shots don’t look too shabby, trust me – a broken doorknob, crumbling caulk, goops of hastily-applied primer, and ancient paint drips all over the tile mosaic were just a few of the fun surprises.

Check it out in its ‘primer white’ glory:
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vestibule - before

My favorite part of the vestibule? This 1890’s nine-point light fixture. My least favorite: the nasty crumbling caulk.

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vestibule - before

After scraping all the old caulk away, I tried my best to recaulk the vestibule and stocked up on wet dishrags and towels to clean up the mess I made being OCD. Of course I learned this awesome trick about using painter’s tape to get a perfect caulk line right after I was done. Perfect timing. Thanks, universe. While I was waiting for my work to dry and kicking myself for not reading that tutorial sooner, I did get to spend some quality time with a putty knife scraping paint drips off the porcelain tiles.

A couple of days later, it was finally time to paint. My plan was to keep it simple – crisp white molding, soft grey walls, warm natural wood colors for the rug and bench — and maybe a shot of color on the interior door?


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And here’s where that “small project” estimate gets especially funny. All in all, I spent EIGHT HOURS applying two coats of semi-gloss white trim paint over a weekend. EIGHT. There is a chance I might be the world’s slowest painter. But there’s also a ton of molding to obsess over. iphone - island brights-1013Fortunately, the grey walls were practically an afterthought, once I’d recovered from all the detail painting. So let’s call it 10 total hours of JUST PAINTING. In a room that barely measures 6′ x 3′. And I still have touch-ups to do. And the ceiling. (Lazy!)

So once I was done with the main painting, in went the $10 HESSUM rug and $40 MOLGER bench from IKEA. And then I walked by those paint swatches for the interior door for two weeks, admiring them every time I picked up all the junk mail that collects on my vestibule floor.

My gut instinct was to go with a fuschia color for the interior door. A glossy fuschia or plum door. The more I thought about it, the more awesome it sounded. So I bought a quart of high gloss water-based enamel from Benjamin Moore in Ralph Lauren’s Island Brights collection in “Magenta Jewel” and started painting while Zach wasn’t home. Ta daaaaa!

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After one coat, I started to doubt the wisdom of my choice. I still love the color, but it wasn’t screaming “Welcome to Our Cheerful Home!” like I hoped. More like “Hello Kitty Exploded Here.” Then Zach got home and managed to pry the paintbrush from my hand once he recovered from the shock.

I went back to the paint store the next day for my second choice – a rich glossy “Toucan Black” from Benjamin Moore that we’ve used elsewhere in the house. And then I painted my way into a much calmer and more welcoming vestibule that definitely says welcome home! There’s still plenty left to do – find a coat rack and umbrella stand, buy new hardware for the interior door, touch up the molding and ceiling – but it’s feeling so much more like my home. And not Hello Kitty’s.

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planning the parlor dining room

The last time I posted any pictures of the parlor, cheap the crazy textured plaster ceiling was getting ripped out and a structural beam was getting repaired. Yeah, it was as scary as it sounds. The sagging ceiling in the front room was my biggest concern when I first saw the house almost a year ago, and I worried about it a lot.

Fortunately, my contractor pros were able to open it up and shim the beam, which leveled things out for the long haul. After demo’ing the ceiling, rebuilding the cove ceilings, and applying a beautiful new skim coat, it was starting to look even better than its deceptively pleasant before shot.

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Even in its grimy original state, I fell so hard for the parlor when I first walked in the front door at the open house. Its geometric moldings, inlaid parquet floors, big front windows, and 10-foot ceilings made me weak in the knees. The original floorplan referred to the parlor as the living room, but I had other plans.

Why not turn it into a dining room? And maybe a sitting area where we could read books or flip through magazines?

So I asked (very nicely) in my offer for the beautiful vintage Danish dining table from Bo-Ex (which measures a whopping 95″ when both its leaves are in) and for the beautiful matching sideboard. I knew these pieces would make a great foundation for my new grown-up dining room, and were perfect for future dinner parties.

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I also had my heart set on a chandelier to dress up the space, so I picked out a reproduction ceiling medallion, a curvaceous modern pewter chandelier, and a new rug to ground the space. We’re still deciding on what to do for the windows and chairs — I’d love vintage fiberglass Eames shells, but am currently digging on these industrial Marais chairs. Too many options!

Now if only I could decide what color to paint the walls…

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We also inherited a pair of vintage armchairs that are desperate need of reupholstery, but they’ll have to wait until I can pick out a fabric and save up the money. And get twenty-five million other projects done, but who’s counting? Any good upholstery recommendations in Brooklyn that are reasonably priced??!

For now, I’m so happy with how the parlor is turning out. I can’t wait for the next project!

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