DIY Extra Long Shower Curtain – Stamped Sea Monster!

When I remodeled my tiny main bathroom, I raised the shower rod, as high as possible. Two reasons: that’s nicer for tall people and I think it makes the space look more spacious. That meant that the existing outer cotton shower curtain looked stupid. It barely skimmed the top of the tub.

Time to go long. My options were:

  1. Ignore it and try not to let it bug me
  2. Add an extension to the existing curtain
  3. Buy a new, extra long shower curtain
  4. Make one

Options 1-2 just weren’t going to work. The bathroom was hardworking enough. It deserved a little pretty, not a makeshift or almost good look. Also, I was feeling lazy seamstress-wise.

Option 3 was a no go because when it comes to things like shower curtains, I can be seriously cheap. And if I am going to spend money, I want exactly what I want. Shopping about for extra long shower curtains gave me some serious sticker shock. Also, I didn’t really like anything I found. Spending money on ick, well, that would be icky.

Option 4 took a bit of thinking. I really was NOT IN THE MOOD to sew anything.

Still, I had to size the project. Shower curtains typically measure 72×72″ (sometimes 74″). I wanted something that was roughly 72×82.” Wide fabric comes in at about 54″ pre-shrinkage, so just not wide enough without a seam. With seams and hems, I’d need six yards of something. At $3-$5 per yard for cottons that I didn’t loathe, the shower curtain was costing $18-$30 to start.

I thought about a tablecloth, repurposed. Poking about, pretty vintage ones were pricey. New cheap ones were too poly for me. And still pricey.

Then it hit me. A full size flat sheet might do the trick. At 81×96,” it would certainly be wide enough. So the center seam issue would be solved pretty easily.  That said, it would still be slightly large. Folding, I thought, would solve the issue.  The sheet could be folded at the top to offer whatever length was necessary. Width wise, I could either space out the typical 12 grommet holes wider than normal, or I could fold again at one end. So, folding a double size flat sheet it would be. Since I had none, I hit Target because they offer 300 thread count cotton sheets at $11.99. I went for white but there were other pretty colors.

Next came the grommets. Now, the biggest problem with doing grommets is once you start, you don’t want to stop. Self discipline is called for. And offering to make grommety things to everyone you know. For this project, I went for big grommets because I like that look and it would fit my fat shower rod hooks. Joanne was my source. Using coupons, one grommet kit and one set of additional grommets cost me about $10 (the kit comes with about eight, and a typical shower curtain needs 12 grommets. For my folding strategy, I needed 13.). Note: Joanne Fabric’s site doesn’t show all the grommets they offer online. Cool tip: Grommets in the sewing section are slightly cheaper than the ones in the drapery section.

Here’s the blow-by-blow on getting it done.

Budget: Less than $25 for the basics, if you get your grommets with coupons and buy an inexpensive sheet. If you don’t have stamps and ink on hand already, that will be an additional cost.

  1. Gather what you need:
    • Full length sheet
    • Grommet kit and enough grommets for your shower rod hooks (usually 12 for the hooks but you will need a 13th as well). Choose grommets that offer a fat enough hole for your hooks
    • Hammer and solid surface for pounding (concrete steps are ideal)
    • Stamps and fabric ink pads for stamping your curtain
    • Iron, for assisting with the top fold and setting the stamps
    • Pencil
  2. Launder: washing and drying the sheet is necessary. It will shrink a little and you’ll want to wash it every month anyway. If it’s super wrinkly and you’re going to stamp, you’ll want to get the wrinkles out. This was not necessary with my Target sheet. Plus I like the slightly wrinkly look of cotton.
  3. Fold: The top of the sheet with the fat white hem became the bottom of the curtain. This means the top of the curtain would be the bottom of the sheet. Fold the bottom of the sheet over so that the total folded length will be length you want. Iron the fold.
  4. Space & mark: Using your old shower curtain or liner, space out the the grommet holes and mark them with a pencil. Make an x, don’t make a heavy mark or then you have to get rid of it later. Add a 13th grommet hole at the end of the shower curtain.
  5. Pound your first hole. Pound one grommet hole through the top folded section (so you’re going through two pieces of fabric). Do the side that will be seen the least, just in case you get the spacing wrong. The grommet kit will show you had to do this and there are a ton of examples online. It’s so easy and fun!
  6. Test: Hang up the sheet to check that the length is right. Really, do this. It can go wrong.
  7. Finish pounding: Once you have the right, pound the rest of your holes. Make sure you’re consistent. You want the grommets on each side to look like they match.
  8. Hang your curtain. Fold that leftover end over so you have two grommets hanging on the 12th hook.
  9. Contemplate the design you want to stamp.
  10. Be arty: Take the curtain down and stamp it. I wanted something simple and subtle so I made a border of sea monsters at the bottom in a sea blue. The always wonderful LuLu improved this by stamping bubbles randomly over the rest of it in two other blues. Also, she did some stamping at the top to disguise my bad pencil marks that wouldn’t wash out. It’s perfect for me, both fresh and subtle. Glancing at it, you basically see a white cotton shower curtain. Up close, you get fun surprises.
  11. Cure & set: Let it cure for 24 hours and then iron it. This sets the fabric ink so it won’t run when you wash it again. Hang it back up. You’re done!

 

At casual glance, it looks like a simple white shower curtain
At casual glance, it looks like a simple white shower curtain
Up close, you see bubbes
Up close, you see bubbles

 

 

And sea monsters!
And sea monsters!

 

 

 

North End Largesse

New to Boise, I picked this neighborhood because of park proximity, walkability, and the charm of older homes. Though pricey compared to other neighborhoods in Boise, these amenities outweighed any fantasies I had about a home with a master suite, gourmet kitchen, or swimming pool.

What I didn’t know then was how generous a neighborhood it would be. I was prepared for California-transplant hate (which I didn’t get, ever), but not the active welcome and practical help.

Today I am grateful for the gift of plants from my kindly North End neighbors. Thanks to them, seven tomato plants are now in the raised bed, ready to go to town in the coming heat. And the bald patch in the front yard is now planted with day lilies that one neighbor thinned from her bed. I’m so excited to have plants in a spot I thought would be bare all summer due to No Spend Spring!

Wheelbarrow full of lillies, free!
Wheelbarrow full of lilies, free!

The Mints are as grateful as psychopaths ever are, as well. Another neighbor lost her cat and showed up on my stoop with a bin full of dry cat food.

I don’t remember this happening in my old neighborhood, even though I lived there more than a decade, and had lovely, friendly neighbors. When neighbors dropped by, or hailed you outside, it could be to chat, comment on one’s landscape, complain about something, or demand support for some issue. Not to just give.

North Enders seem to be heavy NextDoor users, and they use it well. Sure, there are a fair number of lectures, issue related, and for sale posts. Yet there seem to be even more about found pets, creatures who need homes, and useful free things (lumber! plants!). Now and then there are calls for help, refreshingly creative ones. At the holiday one neighbor asked for help for some homeless friends, struggling to get into housing with a disabled child. Her plea wasn’t focused on cash but on the short term assist that was needed. This meant specific items to help this family with practical needs and a holiday celebration. OK, not rocket science but my California-jaded self is just so used to pleas only for cash.

I posted once, trying to find a home for a puppy a friend was fostering. This was met with practical offers for help for the little guy. Sure, there were a few unhelpful lectures as well, but scanning — and ignoring — those were a small price to pay to help the puppy. That puppy quickly found a home.

It’s not just online. I notice it out dog walking as well. There’s a genuine interest in my beast, the occasional invite to sit down by a front yard fire, collegial alerts about foxes in the area (the Mints seem impervious), and the like. Sometimes free stuff is just left out for the taking. Or the lost posted on telephone poles (and found again). The North End Neighborhood Association (NENA) is active too, and volunteers kindly deliver a quarterly newspaper.

I’m not sure what inspires all this kindliness. Is it a Boise thing? Is it smallish city  living? Not sure. Just lucky.

 

 

 

Main Floor Bathroom Remodel on a $5500 Budget: Planning Stage

The main floor bathroom in this little cottage was icky. Built in 1947, it was predictable that the room would be small. Sadly, the 1970s update just made it depressing. Sure, it was all neutrals, but they were pretty beat up from years of college age renters.

 

Main bathroom. Tiny, no window, fiber glass shower surround, laminate counter, stained everything.
Main bathroom. Tiny, no window, fiber glass shower surround, laminate counter, stained everything.

Here’s what harshed my mellow:

  • The whole thing was small, 7.5’x5.’ This is the kind of small that makes a person enraged when they hear about “small” 8×10′ bathrooms. I’m one of those people, people.
  • The finishes were grotty. Laminate and fiberglass, they were on the beat up, scratched side. Faucet was limey/rusting, sink had permanent stains.
  • The vanity was a problem. It jutted into the room, nailing my hip more than once. Dark and small, it added little storage but seemed to suck the life out of the room. The space was so tight, you couldn’t even put a TP holder in it, adjacent to the toilet. And it was LOW. Like back-breaking-think-I’ll-skip-washing-face-again low.
  • I was a little in mourning. My last house had a nice, old, deep tub, and I am a bath taker. This one had a shallow, tiny tub, the opposite of inviting on a cold winter night. Or anytime.
  • Lighting was grim. Ancient over-sink lighting and a fluorescent light integrated into the fan. No natural light because no window. Even though the bathroom backed onto an exterior wall. Just sad. And annoying.

Time to see what could be done right away:

A shower curtain was a given. The bathroom was so grotty that it just didn’t make sense to invest in a glass enclosure when it was so obvious that this would be the first major remodel. So I put in a curved double shower rod. Love those things! Extra elbow room in the small shower. An extra rack to hang stuff on.

Double shower rod
Double shower rod

I also added a railway rack over the tub for in room towel storage. This would put clean towels in reach within the bathroom. With the linen closet at the other end of the hall and the undersink storage just gross, this was a high priority.

Railway rack
Railway rack, cheapo version.

I kinda don’t get why more people don’t put these over tubs. The storage improvement is seriously great. It provides a prefect, tidy place to leave wet wash cloths or hang the occasional dripping garment. And, if you think it makes the bathroom look too closed in at say, a party, all ya gotta do put the towels back in the linen closet and the rack sort of disappears.

Next I swapped out the key-locking bathroom knob, anticipating the day a niece or nephew would accidentally lock themselves in the windowless room. This was my first little egg knob. Love it! A classic look but easier to use than a conventional round one. Prettier than the weird, crusted, keyed door knob.

A happy, child-safe little egg knob.
A happy, child-safe little egg knob.

Sadly, that was pretty much it. I tried, I really tried to make it work. Scrubbed till I bled. Tried to overcome that feeling of distaste that I felt every time I walked in the bathroom. Told myself that bathing under a too low shower head was OK. Pretended that a bath with only ten inches of water was still a great way to relax.

This thing needed an overhaul.

Of course, the big question was, what would that overhaul cost? I really had no idea and budget was an issue. So the first step was be to identify every single improvement I anticipated making, including finish choices. And then I would ask the contractor. And then we’d see. Maybe something could be done. Maybe nothing.

Here’s what we did on a total budget of around $5500, including the window. The contractor I used was The Pros of Idaho (theprosofidaho@msn.com), who were referred to me by my realtor. Everything they did came in on budget and on time. Everything they subbed out was to a licensed, bonded contractor. When I specified something a little weird, they asked me about it, helping me to correct course or working with my preferences. During the actual work phase, they were kind of obsessed with cleaning up EVERY DAY, which I thought was refreshingly funny. Or maybe just an illustration of how low your standards can go when you live with seven animals.

If you’d like to skip the planning details and see how it all turned out, bounce over here.

Look and feel. Given resources and the style, age, and neighborhood, I just didn’t think that finishes needed to be extreme to provide a great, functional, in-keeping-with-era bathroom. I prefer older style bathrooms, ones that look crisp, light and fresh. White porcelain, clean metals. That works for me. Wall paint is how I prefer to add and subtract bathroom color, keeping the permanent stuff as classic and simple as possible. My goal was to put in a bathroom that might have been original with just a few modern tweaks.

Function. With such a small space for the primary bathroom for the whole house, basic function, storage and navigability were top issues. Pretty was secondary, though of course on the wish list. Function choices are discussed in more detail below. Another function note: this is both the main bathroom for everyone AND the guest bathroom. So it was important to make organization/storage choices that would make the bathroom easy to use and virtually always guest ready.

New window: The room needed a window. Totally ridiculous to have a exterior wall adjacent room of any kind without a window. No wonder the bathroom seemed dank. To be fair, there was no mold. Yet really, it felt like mold was invited but too busy or repulsed to come to the party. Because of where the house is, this window had to be approved by the historical society so there was not much choice about how this window would look. We ended up with a narrow, high, bottom opening casement, which works great. Light comes in. No one can see in.

The Professionals of Idaho installed the window for a very fair price, and did the rest of the bathroom as well. The window was my single biggest splurge at $625. It now also lights the hall, worth every penny.

Tub or Shower? In a small bathroom, going only shower can make a lot of sense. But this was the primary bath in the house. The other, basement bath had a shower only and was even smaller than this room. I like a good soak, feels great. Kids, who visit often, need a tub. Resale value suggests at least one functioning bathtub in a house is a smart idea. Bath tub it was.  I picked the Kohler Archer 5ft. Soaking Tub for these reasons:

  • Depth of soak
  • Liked look
  • Would fit tiny space

 

Glass enclosure or shower curtain? Generally I prefer glass. However, it’s more costly and in that small space, a bit unwieldy. By this time, I had fallen in love with my curved shower curtain rod so it seemed wisest to just reuse it, only this time, mount it higher.

Toilet: Needed a new one, hopefully a lot prettier, with a higher seat and soft close.    This seemed like its lines would not fight with the tub: KOHLER Tresham Comfort Height 2-piece 1.28 GPF Elongated Toilet. Plus I loved the flip up handle and flat top.

 Sink: Originally I wanted this beauty from Foremost Series 1930, with a simple integrated backsplash.

But it was out of stock when I needed it so we went with this Kohler Archer number, to match the tub. I don’t love it as much as the 30s look but it does look great and clean.

A word about pedestal sinks. Some folks don’t get them, citing lost storage space. Here’s why they’re worth considering:

  • Clean, classic look
  • With wide rim, some functional surface space is available but not enough to invite clutter
  • Great in small footprint bathroom, where there’s not space to go big or a vanity would darken and shrink the space (and be hard to get into)
  • Helpful when maneuvering wheelchair & walker using guests
  • Often higher than a conventional vanity

Fixtures: For most of the bath and sink fixtures, we went with Moen Banbury. It had the right cottage look to it. In brushed nickel, water stains wouldn’t show much, which is a really big deal to me. For the main towel rack, I went double to maximize storage.

Railway rack: I upgraded my el cheapo interim rack with the Moorefield Beacon Hotel Style Rack in Brushed Nickel. Much sturdier, no water spots to show and super handy hooks. This baby was worth every penny.

Redi Niche: I got two of these Redi Niche Tile Ready inserts. They fit in between the studs and get tiled over to add extra storage. One is on the wall facing the door. The other under the railway rack. This gives me and guests plenty of storage room. These babies do come in other convenient sizes. I just liked the double shelf. For a change, I had one installed with the small shelf on top, the other as shown below.

Part of me wishes I’d gone for even more between the studs niches here just to max out storage options. In real life, the two niches are plenty for me.

Tile: I went classic with the tile. White subway for the tub enclosure and white hex for the floor. Baseboards out of white subway. Grey grout on the floor, light grout on the walls.

Medicine cabinet: There were so many straight lines already in the bathroom, I went with an oval to break things up. This beauty had the convenience of a mirror inside. And, in this small space, I love that it’s recessed.

 

Over toilet storage/glass shelves: I wanted to use glass shelves over the toilet. They could be used for display, add guest convenience, hold a lot of stuff when needed and disappear when not. I went with three of Delta’s Greenwich Glass Shelves in satin nickel. The look seemed like it would work OK with all the Moen Banbury fixtures AND I really wanted that spot-free satin nickel finish. The Banbury glass shelves were pretty but I disliked the mounting with it’s bump, which gave up too much shelf space. In a perfect world, I’d have shelves with a little rim around them because of my klutz issue. However, at the time of shopping, all I could find in that style were chrome, or shelves that were only 20.”

They might not be a perfect match, but I love these babies. They are serious work horses, able to hold up to 35lbs of stuff.

Main Supplies Storage: This required a lot of thought. The first thing I made my peace with was that without a vanity, cleaning supplies would need to live elsewhere. Then I found this great project article from the Family Handyman and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

Seriously, every time I see a small bathroom solutions article, I think someone else will have done this, it is so perfect. It’s not just that it allowed me to ditch the awkward, unopenable vanity; it gave me more and more functional storage!

At this point, my DIY skills were not equal to tearing out the wall and putting this in. I’m ok with a lot of imperfections in my projects but for a heavy use bathroom, I wanted it built right. I asked the guys at the Pros of Idaho if they could do it. Waited with dread to hear the pricing and it came in at . . . about $300. Deal! The vanity could go the way of the dodo bird and I’d still get some good storage.

Once all this was priced and planned, work began in earnest. Here are some work in progress shots. If you’d like to skip on to see how it all turned out, and how it’s holding up almost two years later, go here.

2013-07-01 13.44.01 2013-07-01 13.44.05 2013-07-01 21.16.13 2013-07-02 08.45.58

Up next: how it all turned out.

Have you done a bathroom remodel? Did you enjoy researching and choosing the fixtures? Supply challenges? Did you DIY or use a contractor? Regrets?

Main Floor Bathroom Remodel on a $5500 Budget: The Tour

Original main bathroom
Original main bathroom.
Natural light now washes the bathroom
Natural light now washes the bathroom.

The updated bath is a hard working space, more functional, and light, with touches of pretty.

And now, here’s the blow-by-blow on my choices and how they worked out.

Before we start, here’s a truth in advertising note: The bathroom got its routine weekly cleaning but it hasn’t been staged. I wanted to show how I actually live every day in this space. My 13 small bathroom storage solutions have really made it possible to keep this space tidy with almost zero effort. Sometimes I get more minimalist and stow the stuff out on the shelves but mostly not. In real life, it doesn’t feel cluttered when I’m in the space.

Paint: The colors I chose were Tahoe Snow and my standard “house white,” aka Country Cotton, both Kelly-Moore. Mostly I wanted the room to be fresh and light feeling. It’s a water room as well, so icy blue seemed like a perfect almost-neutral. Sometimes it’s dressed with pale blue and white towels. Sometimes I get all Scandinavian and use rich red towels.

I went with semi-gloss paint on the icy blue. I like the way it looks and contrasts with the shiny porcelain fixtures. That said, I can’t help feeling like a glossier paint would be more durable. Humph. In retrospect, if I had kids, the paint would need to be a durable high gloss. In reality, it’s holding up just fine.

Curtain rod & shower curtain: We raised the shower rod as high as possible and that meant needing an extra long shower curtain. I like a cotton external shower curtain and a vinyl or plastic liner. Well, like on that last part is too strong. I find the liner useful. Buying an extra long liner was pretty simple. They carry them at places like Home Depot but I got a discount version at Ross.

The shower curtain was a bigger problem. I wanted white, something classic looking and long enough to drape prettily on the outside of the tub. But, after investing in the big remodel, I just couldn’t stomach dropping $50+ on the extra long shower curtains I found. I didn’t really like any of them. I wanted something that would sort of disappear, unless you really looked at it. And then there should be a surprise.

A DIY shower curtain should not be a problem, right? If anything is easy to sew, a straight seam in some cotton should be it. Still,  I also was feeling too lazy to actually sew anything.

Domestic Imperfection’s round up of DIY shower curtains got me started. Measuring, I realized that the size of fabric I needed was basically a flat, full-sized sheet, which would eliminate the sewing requirement. Holes could easily be handled with a grommet kit. And I could make it my own by using fabric ink to stamp some sea monsters along the bottom. More details in this post.

I love my sea monster border.

I love my sea monster border.

 

Hopefully you can see here how high the shower rod is. For extra privacy, the curtain can be drawn but nothing actually overlooks the window so the shower curtain is always left open.
Hopefully you can see here how high the shower rod is. For extra privacy, the curtain can be drawn but nothing actually overlooks the window so the shower curtain is always left open.

New window:  The window was better than I hoped. Sure, it was a conventional, simple shape. Instantly it lit the whole room and cast light into the formerly dark hallway. Even at dusk, the need to turn on a hallway light is eliminated. And ventilation. Who hates that? Finally, it should be said that the window ledge is handy for storage as well. I don’t seem to need it in this space but the occasional guest appreciates it.

Even at dusk, there's no need to flip on a light now that there's a window.
Even at dusk, there’s no need to flip on a light now that there’s a window.
The hall also benefits from the new window's light.
The hall also benefits from the new window’s light.

Shower surround inserts: These really add a lot of easy-use storage space.

In one insert, there are body washes. In the other, big pump bottles of shampoo and conditioner. The smaller shelves are perfect for soap and razors.
In one insert, there are body washes. In the other, big pump bottles of shampoo and conditioner. The smaller shelves are perfect for soap and razors.

 

Here's a closeup of an insert.
Here’s a closeup of an insert.

Railway rack: When I have guests, I put towels on the railway rack for easy access. In everyday life, I don’t bother. But I do use the little hooks to dry wet wash cloths, and hand other miscellaneous stuff. So, so handy. And because it’s so high, it doesn’t cramp anyone’s style in the bathroom. See earlier pic.

Over-toilet storage:  I went with three of these glass shelves, which are rated to hold 35lbs each. I store my prettier, everyday use things here. It might look cleaner without the decor items, but I like seeing them. I try to keep a flower in my mom’s crystal bud vase. Even flower free, I love looking at it.

When overnight guests come, I store the stuff on the middle shelf in my cabinet to free up a little space. About 1/3 of the items on the shelf are purely decorative and can easily be put somewhere else if space is needed or I just want to de-clutter.
When overnight guests come, I store the stuff on the middle shelf in my cabinet to free up a shelf. About 1/3 of the items on the shelf are purely decorative and can easily be put somewhere else if space is needed or I just want to de-clutter.
The top of the toilet is used for clean wash cloths and a little air freshener. Yes, that's my mom's old silver plated bread basket. I use it more here.
The top of the toilet is used for clean wash cloths and a little air freshener. Yes, that’s my mom’s old silver-plated bread basket. I use it more here than at the dining table.

Utility items: Extra TP, waste basket, plunger, cleaning supplies and more . . . These items all need a place and a plan to keep a bathroom comfortable and functional. Much of it used to be stowed in the awful vanity, which put them in the right room though the vanity was still hard to excavate in the tiny space. Now they each have a specific solution.

  • Three extra toilet paper rolls live in a covered canister. The cats would prefer a more open container but I am ruthless. Go for one that can hold those extra fat rolls.
  • The trash can is small and has a step-open feature. Extra liners are kept inside the can. Here’s something I find ever-baffling: why doesn’t everyone use covered waste cans in a bathroom? Who wants to see that waste?
  • I splurged on a Simple Human magnetic sleeve plunger. This keeps it clean and away from touching anything else. It lives against the wall by the toilet. And actually, the new toilet is so great it’s never been used in the almost two years since the remodel.
  • The hair dryer lives on a hook under the sink. It’s easy to plug in, easy to stow.
  • Cleaning supplies live under another sink, in their own little tub. Once a week I have to walk fifteen extra steps to retrieve the cleaning box.
  • Wash cloths and extra towels each have a place to live. Wash cloths sit in a silver-plated bread basket on top of the toilet, handy to the sink. Extra towels are placed on the railway rack when company is in town and back in the linen closet when they’re not needed.
  • The railway rack does double duty for drying clothes inside in the winter.
  • Outside the door storage. I’ve often thought of putting a little table in the hall corner, outside the bathroom door. I haven’t yet, because the current storage options cover my needs.
Extra toilet paper canister, covered waste bin, tucked between sink and toilet.
Extra toilet paper canister, covered waste bin, tucked between sink and toilet.
Simple Human plunger, so far never used
Simple Human plunger, so far never used.
If the occasional nosy guest really wants to know where my hair dryer is, they have only to look under the sink
If the occasional nosy guest really wants to know where my hair dryer is, they have only to look under the sink. Enjoy!
It's a tiny space! Only include the stuff you touch everyday. Cleaning supplies can lurk somewhere else.
It’s a tiny space! Only include the stuff you touch everyday. Cleaning supplies can lurk somewhere else.

Medicine cabinet: This lovely piece is dedicated to holding tooth supplies. I like these stowed away from the rest of the germs circulating in any bathroom. In almost two years, we’ve never had an issue with the toothbrushes not drying out due to being in the cabinet. It’s also nice that the cabinet has mirrors outside and in. The one flaw is that the magnetic holder that’s supposed to help the cabinet stay closed has come unglued. Since it has no problem staying closed, I haven’t bothered to fix it.

Medicine cabinet over the sink. Sink rim is big enough to hold soap and lotion.
Medicine cabinet over the sink. Sink rim is big enough to hold soap and lotion.
Forgive the crazy lighting! I'll try again when it's daylight.
Forgive the crazy lighting! I’ll try again when it’s daylight.

Decor items: I think a little pretty in a small room somehow grounds it or makes me take it more seriously. And then I mess it up less. Above the towel rack, I put one of my favorite jellyfish illustrations. On another wall, I hung an antique silver mirror found at the Paris flea markets, a comb my grandmother wore, a favorite night light, and an evil eye amulet I brought home from Egypt. It makes me happy to see these things.

A favorite jellyfish over the double towel rack.
A favorite jellyfish over the double towel rack.
Antique hand mirror, hair comb and evil eye amulet brighten up the hand towel wall.
Treasures add interest to the little wall alongside the door.
Antique -- and tarnished -- silver mirror found at a Paris flea market. I still love it, S!
Antique — and tarnished — silver mirror found at a Paris flea market. I still love it, S!
Antique comb and an evil eye amulet I picked up in Egypt.
Antique comb and an evil eye amulet I picked up in Egypt.
Using my good things in the bathroom means I see them more. I love seeing my mom's crystal bud vase everyday.
Using my good things in the bathroom means I see them more. I love seeing my mom’s crystal bud vase everyday.

Lighting: This didn’t go the way I thought it would. Turns out, my ceiling is too low so, in order to have the medicine cabinet open property, the light fixture had to be flipped to point at the ceiling. It’s still plenty bright, if a little silly looking. Mostly it’s only turned on at night because there’s so much light coming in from the window.

Flipped over lights
Flipped over lights

Most wonderful cabinet in the world: Now for the cabinet that really makes this space work. As I mentioned, the recipe came from Family Handyman. For mine, there would only be room to put one cabinet in and not the double glass one Family Handyman shows. I wanted mine to have a door that closed but glass wouldn’t have that might-be-original-to-the-house look. Esvin from the Pros of Idaho (theprosofidaho@msn.com) made it work perfectly, even adding a little egg knob to match the door knob. This shallow cabinet is great because it allows you to see everything you need without rummaging about. Shelves are adjustable. It’s plenty big to store immediately needed supplies, including all that annoying pretty girl stuff. Extras live in a bin in the linen closet and are replenished as needed. I’m so enchanted by this guy two years later that even if I weren’t remodeling the tiniest bathroom in the world, I’d put one in.

Outside of the between-the-studs cabinet from Family Handyman plan.
Outside of the between-the-studs cabinet from Family Handyman plan.
Between studs cabinet inside. Note that the shelves are adjustable.
Between studs cabinet inside. Note that the shelves are adjustable.

And now a smug cabinet note: a month after the bathroom was finished, I was browsing a Restoration Hardware catalog. There I saw a between-the-studs long mirrored medicine cabinet! Same size as mine. Beautiful. And $900. Guess they’re reading Family Handyman too!

Tile: As you’ll have seen, white tile was the plan. Larger subway tiles were used in the shower and hex tiles on the floor. There’s no back splash because when I originally planned the bathroom, the pedestal sink had a built in back splash. And now I’m on the fence about whether to add one. What do you think?

Hex floor tiles with gray grout. Subway tile was used instead of baseboard.
Hex floor tiles with gray grout. Subway tile was used instead of baseboard.

Two regrets:

  • I wish it had been easy/feasible/affordable to add another outlet. The space is just so tiny that it didn’t seem workable. And the truth is, two outlets has always been just fine. It’s not like a bunch of people can stand around in the bathroom together. So this might be simple greed talking.
  • I dropped almost $100 on the special stopper/plug that goes with the Archer tub. It looked great but within a couple of months, I noticed that it just wasn’t stopping up the water. It was one of those twist down jobs that you can’t always be sure are working. Instead of getting a full tub of hot water, I got a slow-to-fill tub of lukewarm. Fiddling with it a few times got it working again, but inconsistently. Quite annoying, the opposite of how you want to feel at bath time. And not water wise! Eventually, I just unscrewed it. Now when I want to take a bath, I pull out the rubber stopper I picked up at the dollar store and it works perfectly.

And that’s about it! What do you think? Ideas for smarter choices? Would you add a back splash behind the sink? If so, made of what?

Thanks for taking the remodeled bathroom tour!

Be Careful What You Ask For

So easy to become obsessed whatever isn’t, instead of appreciating what is great about what is.

I’ve often wished for a more cuddly, affectionate dog. You know, the kind that doesn’t creep away from me. And that the cats would allow him to sleep next to them. Yup, another learning moment for me is coming up . . .

Cue an unexpected, extended lightning and thunder storm last night. It’s warm, so I’m blasting the AC and fans, trying to block the sound, even though there’s actual hail outside. Hail. In May. In T shirt weather.

Max terrified, making it impossible for me to sleep on my bed (he keeps trying to get under it, doesn’t want to get on it). Cats skeetering around, in either glee,  nervousness or random insanity. Hard to tell when you just want some sleep.

Not just hail. Fat hail.
Not just hail. Fat hail.

The only thing to do at this point is haul up, and move the bedding to the couch. This is the one time that M will allow himself to get on the couch (his natural good manners, nothing I’ve taught him). I hoist him up and lay down under the duvet, hiding from the fan air blast.

Instantly Max starts working his way up my side of the couch and ends up laying across me, giant head on my tummy. I can handle it, it’s only 90 lbs and a slightly awkward angle. He’s still panting away an hour later, looking around anxiously every time there’s a flash. I’m not really sure whether pinning me is his bossy way of keeping me safe or if it’s somehow comforting to him. I do know it’s my only hope of some sleep. Time ticks by and those heavy pants begin to quiet. I start to drift off.  Rrrrooop! There’s that soft feeling of cat on board. Pinned, I can’t do much. Five minutes later, Marmalade is laying in front of my face, eye-to-eye with Max, Gus is wedged between Max and the sofa back, on my arm. Jack is on my feet. So that’s another 45 lbs of pressure.

I felt a little like Maria von Trapp except no one was singing about favorite things. Or wearing curtains.

But I got what I wanted! Snuggly Max! Non-hostile cats! Yay me! Thanks storm! Although today might just be about appreciating my distant dog and stand-offish cats.

That dog was not smiling last night.
That dog was not smiling last night.

 

 

Natural Curiosities Gallery Wall / Ernst Haeckel

At the holiday my dear Diane gave me Natural Curiosities, a 12 poster 2015 calendar of prints by Ernst Haeckel. She knows I love those Victorian era biological illustrations. They’re so passionate and meticulous at the same time. This set was particularly nice, published on card stock by the Library of Congress. Beautiful jellyfish, octopi and more.

 

My intentions started out with self discipline. I would patiently wait each month for the new illustration. At the end of this year, I’d do something beautiful with the illustrations. Didn’t make it. These babies were just too tempting and I was feeling project twitch mightily. I told myself it made sense to do something with them now, to avoid them getting dinged, as things always seem to, by the Mints. Respect, Diane. That’s what I was feeling for you!

From last year’s holiday project of jewelry organizers, I had a bunch of picture frame backs. Varying sizes. Perfect!

For my gallery wall, I had six matching ones so I positioned six of the prints on each backer board. A box knife made a nice clean cut against the backer board. Next it was simply a matter of spray adhesive and I had wall art ready to go.

I was able to keep the titles of these six favorites, discarding the calendar part. That was ideal because the Latin / German titles are almost as interesting as the prints. My guest room gallery wall:

Guest room gallery wall with Ernst Haeckel prints, lit by crazy thrift crystal chandelier.
Guest room gallery wall with Ernst Haeckel prints, lit by crazy thrift crystal chandelier.

Another reason I love this wall is I stenciled it, Country Cotton white over the a creamy / tan color from some found-in-the-basement paint (No Spend Spring hard at work). It’s a imprecise stencil over fairly rough walls. I wanted a subtle, pretty look.

Now I love it even more. There’s something so delicious about the delicacy of the Haeckel prints against the traditional damask shape from the stencil. Maybe it’s that thing about the echoing of nature in all art shapes.

Close up of wall stencil juxtaposed against Haeckel prints.
Close up of wall stencil juxtaposed against Haeckel prints.

I also mounted the rest of the prints on smaller backer boards. These are strewn  about the house more informally, kind of a nice little surprise around every corner. I can’t stop looking at them. So glad I get to enjoy them far beyond a simple month’s display!

What do you think? Have you turned a calendar into more permanent art? Success or failure?

$5 Thrifted Wall Mirrors

I think this’ll be an ongoing post. I like mirrors, and I like them cheap. The challenge I’m giving myself is to find mirrors for under $5 that I can use to brighten this low-ceilinged house.

Red chalk paint, Volcano candle, two of my favorite things.
Red chalk paint, Volcano candle, two of my favorite things.

This was an estate sale seventies “rustic” piece in beat up wood. Now it’s adding a little light to the basement. $5.

Entry way mirror. Maybe I could add some gravitas with a better ribbon?
Entry way mirror. Maybe I could add some gravitas with a better ribbon?

Not ornate, this is one of my few brand new purchases. The need was for a tiny, functional entryway mirror. 2.50 at Michael’s with coupon.

The squid makes the mirror, right?
The squid makes the mirror, right?

Got this at an estate sale. Beat up wood. Silver spray paint adds a little light and fun for the guest room. $5.

90s maple mirror with steel shelf.
90s maple mirror with steel shelf.

Garage sale find. Was thinking of painting over the 90s maple veneer but I’m thinking it’s got a nice, light warmth to it that’s right to help warm up the basement bedroom. This might be one where my only upgrade was to clean it.  Note the little built in shelf, which I think can be a good charging station for guests. $5.

What are your rules for buying mirrors? Should I paint up this last one?

 

 

Refreshing the Step-In Master Closet

This cute little 1947 cottage has a nice-for-the-era-and-social-standing-sized master bedroom with a (same as above, can’t write it all out again) similar closet. At best, you could call it a step-in closet because at 4 1/2 x3 1/2,’ stepping in is about all you could do. Also, it was painted a dingy mushroomy color, generally insalubrious.

I kind of thought it was hopeless and not functional and then I started reading about the Konmari method of organizing things. I’d applied it to my dressers outside the closet already (not the way the book advises) to great effect and thought, why not give it a whack?

I'd already done a partial Konmari purge, which is why the uppers are no longer jammed. Still, a dingy depressing closet
I’d already done a partial Konmari purge, which is why the uppers are no longer jammed. Still, a dingy depressing closet
Fist I tried adding more shelving (see below) to see if that would improve things.
First I tried adding more shelving (see below) to see if that would improve things.
See the hanging sweater organizer? All those t shirts are now in the little dresser, thanks to konmarie!
See the hanging sweater organizer? All those t shirts are now in the little dresser, thanks to Konmari!

Lighting: the probably-original-to-the-house jar light was just there, flickering on in a dingy way. Couldn’t do much in the budget and with the low ceiling height, at least for now. Switched out the low energy bulb for a conventional one.  Instant cheer! Not the most eco solution but since this guy is turned on for maybe 30 seconds in any given day, I’m going to indulge myself here. That only took two years to figure out.

Color: Donna Frasca’s article convinced me that most of my closets should be a light neutral. The dank mushroom color wasn’t uplifting in any way so I trekked down to the basement to see what I had on hand. (Buying paint is off limits this No Spend Spring.) I did find an unopened gallon of pretty ballet pink. I’d picked it up for $5 at the ReStore, last September. I figured if I couldn’t use the pink, I could re-tint it. Couldn’t resist the quality (Behr Premium Plus Ultra) for $5! The closet would be pink. Trim would be my standard Kelly-Moore Country Cotton.

2015-05-26 16.48.48

$5 paint from the ReStore
$5 paint from the ReStore

Dresser color: I also had an old plastic dresser I’d bought whilst waiting six months to get my furniture moved here. It was supposed to go to the garage (Lowes sold it as garage storage) but it proved too useful in the closet. A dingy grey, it just needed a little refresh. I painted the drawers with two thin coats of high adhesive primer (Zissner BullsEye 1-2-3), and then my standard house white (Kelly-Moore Country Cotton). It looked okay-ish, but not especially pretty.

Sadly, this paint job was not a success. It instantly chipped (ok, I did drop a drawer). I think I’d have better luck with a spray on plastic paint primer and a spray color but this is No Spend Spring so that will have to wait.

Here's the ugly plastic dresser, actually super functional
Here’s the ugly plastic dresser, actually super functional

Konmari: I’m hunting for a way to talk about this method that won’t make me sound like a groupie! Seriously, organizing my clothes this way has given me more storage and more access than I’ve had in years.

Also, I got rid of three bins of clothes I could never get to. These bins just sat up top of the closet, sort of out of sight, which means the sweaters I loved in them were out of mind. Now the keepers are integrated into my regular drawers and a couple of items have been donated. I love empty bins!

Now, in the spirit of honesty, this little closet doesn’t hold everything for me. It sure holds more than it did but I’ve got serious business clothes, out of season coats, and evening dresses in another closet. I don’t use them a lot but am not ready to part with them. Also, I keep most of my shoes by the front door. The shoes stored in this closet are rarely used. If this were a more modern closet size, I’d probably be able to get everything in.

Added storage: I wanted to add another layer of shelving over the top shelf. Stacking things high wasn’t working; it all just sort of topples. I didn’t want to buy any brackets and shelving (yup, No Spend Spring Strikes again) but I did have something that could work.

The pictured plank had been the top of a busted bookcase. I planned to re-purpose it as a shoe rack and so had added some legs from the wood pile. But my wall shoe rack project rendered it totally unnecessary so it was just sitting there. It wasn’t quite the right size for the closet — two inches short. But I decided that was okay. Two lost inches is better than that vast stretch of unused space. It also turned out to be a little wide for the shelf. I handled that by just screwing it into the wall.

Here's the bookshelf top turned shoe rack turned closet shelf
Here’s the bookshelf top turned shoe rack turned closet shelf
Here's the too big shelving unit. It works ok on the other side, where the shelf is an L. Solution? Screw it into the wall. I could remove the leg but I don't want to in case someday I remove it and use it as a shoe rack
Here’s the too big shelving unit. It works okay on the other side, where the shelf is an L. Solution? Screw it into the wall. I could remove the leg but I don’t want to in case someday I remove it and use it as a shoe rack

So here’s what we ended up with:

See how the dank mushroom turns green against the pink paint
See how the dank mushroom turns green against the pink paint
It's pink! If a closet can't be a happy pink, what can?
It’s pink! If a closet can’t be a happy pink, what can?
Here's the closet with the badly painted dresser and laundry hamper loaded in
Here’s the closet with the badly painted dresser and laundry hamper loaded in
Here's the not-perfectly-fitting bookshelf/shoe rack mounted over the top shelf
Here’s the not-perfectly-fitting bookshelf/shoe rack mounted over the top shelf

2015-05-26 10.22.07

Here's the other angle. Might want to add another shelf to the L shelf someday
Here’s the other angle. Might want to add another shelf to the L shelf someday

 

It might be tiny but I like having a floor I can see
It might be tiny but I like having a floor I can see

So, what do you think? The space is so tiny, is it hard to see how it’s genuinely more functional now? Is art in a closet the silliest thing a person can do? What would you do differently (besides buy a house with bigger closets)?

15 Musings on No Spend Spring

I’m a shopper. I admit it. I wish I were one of those people who disdain stores just like I wish I were someone who loved being endlessly dirty, or sleeping on rough earth. Sadly, no.

Poking about in almost any kind of store stimulates me. I like seeing how things are made, what they cost, and how they are displayed. I enjoy comparing prices and thinking about how to get the best deal for something (love you Red Laser!). I adore finding something beautiful and/or functional and imagining how it might improve my home or life. I can shop for hours and buy little, or nothing even, and still be happy and inspired.

My favorite museum is the Victoria and Albert, so much about home crafts there, so carefully curated. Not to mention the vastly entertaining Casts Courts (imagine those empire builders zipping around the known world, making plaster casts of everything that caught their eyes! Much nice than looting it and hauling it home to the UK).

I grew up without much money so shopping was a treat. My mother hated it, which made me love it more. I swore that when I grew up, I’d be able to shop whenever I wanted, and be more like my classmate’s families, not so continually pinching pennies.

Life advanced and my professional years started. Here was the time when I had income and opportunity. Plus I was surrounded by media messaging about the joy and wisdom of acquisition. It seemed like setting up a comfortable, pleasant home was the next important rite of passage. Being able to buy things became a sort of code for well-being, for freedom from worry.

Boy did I get that one wrong! Life happened with a vengeance! After some years of success and increasing confidence, things stopped going so perfectly. Sorrows mounted. As for many, the spiral down has felt swift, a combination of my own poor choices, family mishaps and a dicey economy. Enough moaning about that. As Pema Chodron tells us, “start where you are.”

No Spend Spring has been both a challenge and a necessity. The essentials of my little fixer egg house were there.  So in a time when cash is tight, everything not necessary is . . . just not necessary. This is a real mind shift for me, redefining “need,” and breaking a habitual pattern of not thinking too much about buying “essentials.”

That said, I know myself to be among the fortunate. I’m not crying poor when so many genuinely are. Right now feels like battening down the hatches and weathering a storm, not the end game. These musings are in no way intended to minimize the struggles and triumphs of the genuinely poor, just describe my own halting progress.

My challenge has been is the continuation of nesting, of genuine home improvement at a time when there’s no or little cash to throw at a problem. For me, making my home a tiny bit better every single week is meditation, stress relief, a confidence builder, and an embracing of hope. Living through No Spend Spring could not be allowed to block any of these solaces from my life.

No Spend Spring hasn’t eradicated my general enjoyment of shopping, but I do seem to be evolving. Here are a couple of thoughts I am embracing:

1. Good enough isn’t. It really is better to wait to get the perfect item. I’ll always regret money wasted on the good enoughs. And each time I look at them, I have that sour feeling instead of delight.

On the flip, annoying as the good enoughs littered about are, using them up does eventually clear physical and mental space. When they are gone — used up or donated or hacked — there’s more breathing room around here.

2. Three days on the list kills impulse. These days, everything goes on a shopping list and lives there, unfulfilled for at least three days. (This even includes standard grocery list food.) It’s amazing how, after three days, an item stops holding my interest. Or, if the thought of it continues to engage my interest, I’ve come up with a way to get it, or something similar, by making it myself, re-purposing or rearranging. So the outcome of the wait is often much more satisfying (and less costly) in the end. And often, I’ve just stopped “needing” it.

3. Buying too soon ends the fun of the hunt. And the chase is fun!

4. More free stuff starts showing up. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because without cash to spend, I check the free piles at garage sales more frequently. Or accept things from friends instead of an automatic decline (thanks for that lumber D&D! Expect some serious raised bed veggies this summer from those and the salad bar I made out of your old bunk bed ladder). The landing strip seating made from Johanna’s old sewing chair and leftover fabric wasn’t planned but is so functional. Without a wallet to finger, maybe I’m just more open. But all this openness has got me an two handy new shoe racks at a savings of more than $100 off the Ikea price.

5. Any charity is better than none. I almost passed a giving bowl one day because I didn’t have my usual $5 to put in. I had fifty cents. It felt embarrassing. Then I slapped my prideful self upside the head and doubled back. Plinking fifty cents in the bowl might not my first choice yet still, the cause was advanced.

And there’s always something to give. Sometimes it’s something a friend could use more than I need, like a dog crate. Sometimes it’s one of those cool Kohl’s $10 gift cards that come in the mail right when there’s nothing I actually need. Sometimes it’s extra plastic bags for pet waste. Sometimes it’s just being kind, friendly or appreciative. Occasionally it’s brushing the dog or cat beyond my boredom threshold. Whenever I feel empty and pointless or that I will never be a successful philanthropist (thanks for putting that in my head, Austin), I try to remind myself that while my day might be crap, someone else’s could still go a little better were I to bestir myself slightly.

6. No Spend Days are really peaceful. With the option of spending off the table for the day, it gets boring to obsess about all the stuff I want. I’m quicker to redirect thoughts to what is already lovely and wonderful in my life.

7. It’s all just stuff, much of it landfill. Nowadays, estate sales particularly make me think about the temporary nature of everything. I’m still a fan, still a shopper, but estate sales make me think about how my family will hold one for my stuff someday. What really does need to be brought into my home? Am I really going to spend X for it when I know it will go for a fiftieth of that in an estate sale?

8. Stuff takes energy. This is an old Buddhist sentiment and it’s 100% true. My sister reminds me of it repeatedly (and despite the evidence, I am listening, Toad). Anything you acquire takes time and resources to get it, bring it home, and then take care of it, storing it, cleaning it, etc. Energy is limited. Does the item under consideration warrant the drain?

9. Real friends will take a walk. Or do something else entirely free. Holding off on the friends and activities that require resource outlay gives you more time for the people and creatures who matter.

Full moon walk at Camelsback.
Full moon walk at Camelsback.

10. It’s smart to limit shopping. Much as I enjoy it, having dense, goal filled shopping trips helps me to spend less, prioritize more.

11. No Spend means appreciate more. Sure, I will always lust for a new pair of yoga pants, especially when those catalogs show up. However, taking the possibility off the table for now redirects my energy to relishing what I already have, yoga-pant wise. And speaking of appreciate more, thanks to the Konmari method, while my closet is only slightly pruned, I can actually see all those yoga pants.

Konmari folding makes it easy to stash and find my yoga pants. I've gone from two drawers to one!
Konmari folding makes it easy to stash and find my yoga pants. I’ve gone from two drawers to one!

12. No spend living is healthier. I’m limiting mileage on the car in earnest. That means if I forgot something and the car isn’t necessary, it’s time to hop on the bike or take a walk.

13. No spend is cleaner. When I’m feeling twitchy to shop or upgrade the house somehow, I’m reminded that the single best way to freshen it is to . . . freshen it. Thirty minutes spent cleaning usually has a bigger impact than two spent shopping. And using up languishing supplies or good enough purchases clears the air even more.

14. No spend is more creative. In this time, I’ve tackled a bunch of small projects that weren’t on my priority list. Still, I had a twitch and the supplies were already on hand and I learned something. Every time I see my silly little fence tip planter, stash shoes in my wall rack, or harvest some arugula I do the smug dance.

15. Organization makes No Spend living easier. With drawers jammed full, I used to forget I had stuff. I’ve been on black t shirt purchasse restriction forever yet still, whenever I needed one, I couldn’t find it. I read about the Konmari method and took a half-baked swing at it. I didn’t expect to purge a lot of clothes, since I’d done that pre-move, but hoped for organization help. Wow! With shoes organized and accessible in my new DIY shoe racks, buying dupes has ended. Closets and drawers are now navigable and pleasant. Next up, books and papers . . .

No Spend Spring is still going strong. It’s not always fun but I’m getting something of deep value every single day.

What about you? Have you gone No Spend? How long? What were the surprise benefits?

13 pretty & smart storage solutions for a small bath

I get kind of grouchy when I read about small bath solutions when the bathrooms used as examples aren’t actually small. Is this just me?

When I moved in, the main floor bathroom was awful. Not as awful as the other bathroom in the basement, but pretty uninviting, dark and grotty. It needed a whole redo (and got it, once the bath started leaking).

My 1947 cottage was built at a time when regular folks didn’t have master suites or spa bathrooms. I’m a fan of a lovely bathroom but it’s just not always possible to go big in a given space or on a tight budget. My main bathroom, which is used by me and all guests, is 7.5’x5′ with low (7.5′) ceilings. Not only that, the remodeled version has a pedestal sink, which limits some storage. So storage is a challenge. I used these ideas to make the space more functional and harder-working. Not all of them require a remodel to knock out:

1. No under-counter storage? Use a TP cannister: Make sure you get the kind that holds super fat rolls of tissue. Convenient for you, not embarassing for guests. Call me squeamish, but I prefer the kind that doesn’t expose unused rolls to cat hair and paws.

2. Put in a curved, double curtain rod. Go as high as you can. Besides giving you more elbow room in the shower, you can use the extra rod to hang a scrub brush or towel.

Curved Adjustable Double Shower Curtain Rod in Satin Nickel

3. Put a railway rack over the bath. This gives you in-room extra towel storage, and a handy drying rack. Use the under rack for wet towels and/or pick one that has some hooks, which are useful for dripping wash cloths and the like.

4. Put multiple glass shelves over the toilet. Useful for your stuff and guests, they also keep the space light feeling if you don’t always need all the storage. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth doing three.

5. Go for double towel bars: more towels, same space

6. Mount a towel rack with hooks on the back of the door. We use the hooks for hair bands. You’ll probably find another use. If you have room, consider a double rack (above) as an alternative.

Love this baby! Back of the door towel rack is also handy for hanging hairbands
Love this baby! Back of the door towel rack is also handy for hanging hairbands

7. Hang that hair dryer on a hook on the sink wall. You don’t need to see it most of the time, just have it handy.

It doesn't take a special holder: a well mounted book can hold your hair dryer under a pedestal sink. Visitors who really want to see that baby can crouch down to view it . . .
It doesn’t take a special holder: a well mounted book can hold your hair dryer under a pedestal sink. Visitors who really want to see that baby can crouch down to view it . . .

8. Put weekly bathroom cleaning supplies in a bucket somewhere else. Under the kitchen sink? In a utility closet? Wherever. They don’t need to crowd you in the bathroom when you only need them once a week.

9. Store extras somewhere else: I load up on certain supplies when they are cheap. Other traditional-in-the-bathroom stuff  (like some first aid or OTC meds) doesn’t need to be there all the time, just accessible once a quarter when I actually need it. These items are in neatly labeled bins in the linen closet.

Remodel-requiring:

10. Make the most of your studs #1: Add two (or more!) inserts into the tile work in your shower.

This insert goes between the studs, adding tons of storage
This insert goes between the studs, adding tons of storage

11. Make the most of your studs #2: Family Handyman got it right. A between the studs cabinet is beyond useful.

Two boxes of built-in shelves joined together and covered by glass doors.

These guys are crazy smart. And it saved my bath remodel.

12. Make the most of your studs #3: Install a recessed medicine cabinet/mirror. Harder than a wall-mount, but worth it for the sense of spaciousness it gives.

13. Your window needs a ledge: If you’re installing or improving a window, make sure it has a flat, wide ledge. Mine stays mostly clear, due to all the other storage but when I have guests, they appreciate having an in-shower place to stash their stuff.

Want to see how it all came together in my little bathroom? Stay tuned . . .