Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lesson 2. Change your home, change your life: Master Bath Makeover

There is nothing in the world that makes me happier than making things. I love to build, create, invent, whatever. In law school you read a lot of essays that try to prove how lawyers add value to transactions. This always struck me as odd. Shouldn't value added be obvious? I think that's why I prefer building and making over lawyering.  At least when you look back on your hard work, there is something concrete looking back at you.  I don't know many first year associates who can say they feel that way after spending 8 hours crafting a complex memo only to have it trashed by a partner after a 47-second summary glance.

I really threw myself into planning our wedding and I was so scared that I was going to be depressed once I was no longer spending 16 hours a day steeped in marital minutia. But that has not turned out to be the case. Lately I've been doing a lot of work on the house.  I'm posting some photos of some of my current projects, but first, here's the story of how I got started.

Master bathroom "au naturel"
Above is a "before" picture of the master bathroom looking into the walk-in closet. When we bought our house, one of the only really disappointing things was the closet - a wire rack mess with icky carpet floors. Mr. Delta had the closet fitted out for me right before we got married as bar-taking present. We hired a handyman to come over and install hardwoods in the closet to match the rest of the house. I ended up helping him a lot and that was the moment I realized that maybe I could so some of this home improvement stuff myself. 

The only problem with having a beautiful closet was, as I found out, the fact that it made the bathroom (a blah almond colored box) look unworthy by comparison. I recently decided it was time for a change and decided to go bold with black and white. I had a hard time convincing Mr. Delta that painting anything black was a good idea, but he finally caved when I showed him how little wall space would actually be black considering the stark white of the doorways, window, shower, tub, and vanity. I chose Lincoln Cottage Black in satin finish by Valspar and embellished with some framed panels. The insides of the panels are cut from a sheet set I got at TJ Maxx several years ago that I have used for various fabric projects. The frame rail is from Lowe's (Coronado chair rail). It's $4.99 per 8ft section. As an afterthought, I added some crown molding that I got at a building supplies closeout warehouse. We bought a Ryobi miter saw in December and I've been using that to cut everything. In my opinion, a great $80 investment. I was terrified of it at first, but after seeing our handyman use it to cut some things I decided I could probably cut a few feet of crown molding myself. Very tricky until you get the hang of it. Perhaps worth a tutorial later.

The original lighting fixtures in the bath and closet were awful - literally super-economy single light fixtures. I found a mini crystal chandelier and a matching flush mount on clearance online and refinished both to silver (originally one was white and one was dark brown). I used white acrylic paint and a Krylon silver paint pen from Michael's. I also changed the drawer hardware in the closet to match the new fixtures. I found antique french style drawer pulls online and finished them with the silver paint pen to match the fixtures.

I actually installed the fixtures myself and it's really nothing to be scared of. Read the instructions, but this is generally what you basically need to do:

1) flip the breaker for that room
2) unscrew the old fixture from the ceiling and disconnect the wires connected to the ceiling. Generally there are 2 connected with little orange screw on caps and one connected to the metal part of the ceiling fixture bracket via a little screw (often green)
3) connect the new wires like the old ones were connected and attach new fixture to ceiling
4) turn power back on

The result...

The storage cabinet was a wonderful find because we don't have a ton of vanity space. Only 10" deep so it doesn't get in the way. Got it at homedecorators.com for about $180. It's quite well-made although you do have to assemble it.

$57 on sale from Crystorama "Paris Flea Market" collection (used to be dark brown)

What do you think? Definitely better, right? Somehow the black and white seems to capture the art deco style of the house (built in 1908). The whole bathroom update has gotten me kind of excited and I'm starting to think about installing a raised tray in the ceiling. The ceilings are only 8 ft in the bathroom but they are 11 ft in the rest of the house, so I'm thinking it might be a really nice change and would add some drama to the room. I have no idea if I can do this myself. More research will certainly be required. 

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