Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RIP Google Reader

If you're into reading blogs (like I am), you may/may not have been devastated last week to find out that Google Reader is going away forever! How in the world are we supposed to keep up with all of the blogs we read in a neat, easy way?!

After doing some research, I found a great alternative: Feedly. The most important thing about this site: you need to switch over to it BEFORE July 1 and your life will be so much easier. It imports everything you have saved in Google Reader automatically! It's awesome...and to be honest, way prettier. (and no they are not paying me to say this - just want to help my fellow blog readers out!)

So take a deep breath, take one last longing glance at Google Reader, and go to

Step one - Log in using Google Reader. This will automatically import all your subscriptions!
Step two - Click on the button on the top left corner and select "Themes" to make it pretty. I chose the minty color. 

Step three - Click on that same button (it's a menu button) and select "Organize" (it's really tiny right under your name at the top of the menu).

You can put all the blogs you read into categories and folders. Once you have organized, go to the Menu button and click "All" - that's your home page.

Step four - Once you're back on your home page, click the gear button to select what style you'd like to use to view your blog feeds. I chose "Mosaic" because I like seeing the little pictures :)

Those are the basics! Hope that helps someone out! Enjoy & happy blog reading!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bathroom Reno: Part 4: Finished!

I'm back with some "finished" photos of our hall bathroom. The fact that this house had two full baths was a huge selling point for us...and now that the guest bathroom is fresh and new, we are even more thankful. We're so happy with how it turned out. And as with any project, there are still some little things we need to touch up but we'll do those as we go :)



Love the new color in the bathroom! We wanted to choose something that would highlight the hex tile but wouldn't darken the room too much since it is such a small space - we really wanted it to feel light and airy. We ended up with Benjamin Moore Gray Timber Wolf which is a blue gray. (Side note: so far - 100% of our gray colors in this house have been named after animals :) ) 

I feel like this ties in really well with our other colors - we have a light blue in the living room, dining room, and hall. We have gray in the master bedroom, and a brown gray in the guest bedroom. I like that the hall bathroom ties in both the grays and the blue. 

You'll also notice we decided to do wood molding on the bottom, rather than tile (which was there previously). We love love love the wood molding!

It's always hard to take pictures of a small space that has no natural light but here's another attempt...

We opted to have no permanent bath mat on the floor since this bathroom is primarily used for the toilet and sink, and only occasionally for the shower. The white bathmat hangs on the towel rod and can be used for shower time, and in the meantime, it doesn't cover up the star of the show - the hex tile. It made me giddy to think of our guests using a fancy bathmat like in a hotel :) The bathmat, hand towel, and hand towel ring are all from Target. We re-used the glass shelf and towel rod from our other bathroom, since they were both brushed nickel. Same with the toilet paper holder (not seen - on the other wall).

We chose not to upgrade the mirror and light for now. I think I will just eventually frame out the mirror to fancy it up (it's pretty well attached to the wall and doesn't seem like it will detach easily). And then we'll get a simple light to go above.

We decided to hang the hand towel higher up so that it also hides the outlet below. #winwin

Love the brushed nickel fixtures in the photo below! 

Speaking of brushed nickel - here's a close up of our new sink faucet and drain. We went with a Moen brand from Lowe's. Love the curves and the clean look.

And here's a before picture of the toilet area...


We ended up having to hire someone to replace our toilet flange so we had them also reinstall our toilet. While we were at it, we decided to buy a new toilet when we heard about a $100 rebate through the City of Raleigh if you buy water-efficient toilet. It's awesome and about 1 million times better than our old toilet. It was also awesome to have someone else install it because it was giving Rob a lot of trouble. We later found it that was because the top of the flange was broken off and there was nowhere to install the bolts :) Made us feel a lot better that we replaced it.

Since we had someone there to do the labor, we bought another toilet for the master bathroom while we were at it - and that made a huge difference as well. The one in our master bath was original to the house! I.e. it was from 1959. It was really low and did not flush well - we never knew we could love a new toilet so much :)

Above the toilet, we opted to not reinstall the white cabinet because it opened up the space so much by not having it in there. Eventually, I want to hang some art and a shelf above the toilet that will be smaller and more light/airy.

Before picture of the shower coffin:

And after!

Again, we chose a brushed nickel curtain rod & curtain rings. The only shower rod we could find that was brushed nickel was 41" and we needed 39.5" so Rob somehow cut it down to fit. So lucky to have a creative & handy husband! The (wrinkled) ruffled shower curtain is from Target, as well as curtain rod and rings. (Sensing a theme?)

You also may notice a small white strip next to the shower on the wall...that's where we need to putty over the rebar coming out from the shower, prime and paint it. Another small project we'll get to eventually :)

We also opted to not reinstall this little gem:

And instead had Elier install this corner shelf (bought from Lowe's):

We decided that with that and the soap dish (seen kind of in the left hand bottom corner), there is plenty of space for shower accessories. The shower head and handle are new from Lowe's as well - Pfister brand.

And here are some more marble pictures, because I can't get enough.

Love this marble slab separating the shower and bathroom floor.

Terrible lighting and not a good picture of the color of the tile but I love the ruffled shower curtain and think it looks so pretty next to the hex tile.

That's a wrap for now, folks! Next up - basement renovation and nursery decorating!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bathroom Reno - Part 3: TILE!

Definitely the most exciting part for us (but the most painful part for Elier & his crew) was the tiling! We were so excited about the tile we chose and loved it even more when they started laying it out. The hex tile could not be more beautiful - seriously.

It was painful for Elier & co because the bathroom wall is apparently very crooked (another little piece of "character"). So they really had their work cut out for them tiling the main floor. Made us very thankful we didn't try to do it ourselves :)

Here's the floor of the bathroom (mid-tiling, pre-grout):

Here's the shower mid-tiling, pre-grout: 

And here's the shower (pre-grout)!! Love the subway tile and love the little strip of hex tile. That was totally Rob's idea and it turned out so beautiful! It just really ties the two spaces together. I also really love the border around the shower.

And through the magic of the internet... here's the tiling all done!! This was before we cleaned and sealed it so it's even shinier and more beautiful now :)

One of my favorite details is the marble slab between the floor and shower floor - we LOVE how that turned out. 

Shower all finished! We were so excited, I couldn't even wait for Rob to move his head :)

Coming up:
-putting the sink and toilet back in
-replacing shower and sink fixtures
-painting the walls
-shower curtain, rod, mat, etc.
-floor molding

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bathroom Reno - Part 2: Prep for tile

Please excuse my brief absence :) There is so much going on at our house these days, it's hard to find a minute to sit down...and when I do, I am usually asleep within minutes :)

Picking up where we left off (demo, bathroom inspiration)....

The first day that Elier and his crew came to start on the bathroom, it seemed like everything was happening so fast. I would sneak back to the bathroom when they were outside prepping materials, and take pictures because I was so excited about every step. It was really fun to see the stages of how it all got put back together the right way. 

After demo:


After they laid this cement board, they found out that the floor was not level, which is not a huge surprise at all. Our home is almost 55 years old so everything has "character" :) They couldn't retile the floor with the small tile we had chosen when it was so un-level, so they had to pour cement and level it out. I didn't get a picture of that step but after that, they covered it in this blue waterproofing stuff, which you'll see in the pictures of the shower below.



As you'll find in any home renovation project, there are always hiccups along the way. Which is why it is always smart to budget some extra money for surprises. The second surprise was that our drain was broken in the shower, which is what we are guessing caused the original leak. I was actually relieved to hear it was broken because I wanted to have a definite culprit for the leak to ensure that we fixed the problem :) It was not an expensive problem to have at all and it's nice to have a shiny new drain.

 Here's the blue stuff (official name...) that waterproofs everything.

Definitely the coolest part about this stage was seeing how OPEN the shower became once we tore down the sides and top. This is how it used to look:

Isn't it so much more open like this?

It's crazy the difference! So glad we were able to open that little shower tomb up. :)

Up next - gorgeous tile!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bathroom Reno - Inspiration

Like I mentioned in this post, our bathroom is really tiny. So I knew when we were choosing tile and fixtures for the room, I wanted to pick light colors that wouldn't close in the bathroom and make it feel even smaller and more cramped. I wanted the room to feel light, airy, and soft.

Here are some of the pictures I found for inspiration in colors and materials, mostly from pinterest and houzz. The look we are going with is carrera marble hex tile on the floor of the bathroom, white subway tile for the shower wall, and small white tile for the floor of the shower. Everything will be really light with gray tones. I think we will also paint the walls in there a light soft gray but I haven't even gotten that far yet :)

How I first fell in love with hex tile. (

Not going for the blue here but that subway tile on the wall is the size we are doing in the shower plus the hex tile on the floor.

Don't like the floor tile here but I liked the idea of a pattern floor and classic white subway tile on the walls. Plus this bathroom looks really similar in size to ours.

Light/neutral colors. Contemplating this open shelving above our toilet too.

Can't wait to see it all come together!