I am so embarrassed by the before photo. Yes, this is the sink that came with our house, a shallow 4 1/2 inches deep, with the cheapest possible fixture that had literally given out. I can’t believe we let it get this bad, but duct tape (sweet duct tape) allowed us to delay getting it fixed until we could take our time and find the right sink and the right faucet. I’d been planning this change for a while, of course, and mentioned I wanted to upgrade to a new faucet in our holiday wish list post, but sometimes life forces these changes upon us. I really wanted to eliminate the wasted space that exists in a double basin, and I desperately needed a nice deep basin to wash my huge cast iron skillets and soup pots. So after looking around at a few local hardware salvage stores and coming up with nothing, we ended up at all places, Home Depot. Lo and behold, they had a lovely 8 1/4 inch deep stainless steel single basin sink for a decent price, and we even found a fixture that was more affordable than my original pick, this one by Glacier Bay. Installation was a breeze, and we actually gained more cabinet space under the sink, in spite of gaining twice the depth. I love the faucet, too, and I’ll even admit I enjoy doing dishes now, which is something I thought would never be possible! — Megan B
Like most people, I donâ€™t particularly enjoy being sick. Something I like even less? The old cold-during-a-heat-wave routine. Itâ€™s the worst, and it is the story of my life this week. I rarely get sick, but when I do I try to take care of my cold while keeping over-the-counter drugs to a minimum. For years, Iâ€™ve been using my momâ€™s three-step cold remedy.
At the first signs of a cold:
– Take 1000 milligrams of vitamin c every hour until you begin feeling better.
– Put one-two drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear and drain every hour until you no longer hear it bubble up.
– Pop a zinc-acetate lozenge (like Cold-Eeze) every two hours until your cold decides to hit the highway. And in my experience, it will, but this is only effective if started at the first hint of a sore throat.
Weâ€™ve posted before about yummy ways to fight the common cold, but as I lay here in the thick of it Iâ€™d love to hear about some new simple ways to kick the sick. So, help! Whatâ€™s your best at-home cold cure? — Sarah C.
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.
We firmly believe in being your own handyman. Whether it’s installing our own back splash tile in the kitchen, renovating our backyard deck or giving a staircase a ombre hue, we regularly roll-up our sleeves and tackle little projects all over our homes. Sometimes things go wrong. Paints drip on the floor. Tiles dry crookedly. Equipment gets rusty. We pull our hair out. No one is happy.
Luckily, there’s a little help to be found via Vine and these handy D.I.Y. videos produced by Lowe’s. The wonderful thing about Vine is that the videos are super short — 6 seconds! — and loop over and over. So if you miss something the first time, don’t sweat it, you can catch the second or third time around. Here are six cool tricks we learned from watching these Vines — though if you start playing around on the social network’s app you’ll find many, many more.
Six Handy Tricks We Learned From Lowe’s Vine Videos:
1. Potatoes aren’t just for dinner — or making crafty stamps! The next time you are dealing with a broken lightbulb in lamp, use a potato to unscrew it without risking a finger cut.
2. Rubber bands have many uses (besides being woven into colorful bracelets for grade-schoolers). You can use them to catch paint drips from a can, or twist out a stripped down screw.
3. For your next colorful paint project, don’t mess with a new paint tray for each color. Simply line your old ones in aluminum foil and reuse.
4. Take the guesswork out of picture hanging. A piece of tape can help measure the distance between holes and get things picture perfect.
5. You don’t need luck to make your tiles line up perfectly. Pennies placed in between the rows of tiles will do the trick until they dry nicely.
6. What could be more dull than a rusty knife? Dip your cutters in some lemon juice for 15 minutes and see how they shine.
Have you discovered any great DIY Vine videos? Let us know and we’ll feature them on Shelterrific!
A bathroom renovation has been on the agenda since the day escrow closed on our house. We’ve been doing what we can to fix our eyesore of a bath without any demolition: notably converting a traditional door into a mini french door to open up the space and swapping out a rickety towel rod for rope cleats that function as towel hooks. We’re itching to rip out the too-big toilet and cultured marble vanity — and yes, that is a sheet vinyl shower surround.
Finding the right fixtures has been a big hold up on our renovation process. We want something modern, but not TOO much so, as our house is mid-century — and the footprint needs to be small, as our bathroom is a tiny closet of sadness and despair. I know that finding a combination of size, look, and god-forbid functionality is a tall order from a bath fixture, but I’ve found all of these showers by Mira Showers. I’m absolutely swooning for the clean lines of the Mira Miniluxe ER. The exposed riser is a nod to the classic exposed plumbing often found in vintage homes, but with a decidedly more modern vibe. I’m torn between the Miniluxe and the minimalist luxury of the Mira Agile which would have the added bonus of a second hand-held shower head. Not only are both these choices visually attractive, but the showers from Mira Showers have a patented Magni-flo technology which will ensure a full deluge even at low pressure. And this lazy housekeeper won’t have to worry about limescale either, since the nozzles are designed to just rub clean.
We’ve already purchased the sink — after I wrote about it here way back in 2009. We just can’t pull the trigger on the darn faucet. I want a sturdy fixture that is 100% brass — but those can cost a hefty sum. I actually found a few options I like here and here — at Overstock, of all places. As for the toilet, after hours of measuring and internet review reading, I think we’re going with the Ariel Platinum Anna toilet, which has the smallest dimensions I’ve found. And in our lil’ loo, every inch matters.
What would you do with this little bathroom? We’re thinking white walls and subway tile, dark grout, and glossy black or dark gray floors. Clean, classic with a touch of modern — our goal is to open the space up and add some luxury to our modest bath!
This is a sponsored post.
The moment everyone’s been waiting for is here! The reveal of the final rooms in the Re-Energized by Design Competition is live, in a super-sized two parter. This time, the two remaining teams have TWICE the budget, a room full of LED lighting from GE Lighting, and a full range of gorgeous and energy efficient appliances from Frigidaire to pimp their room. We are REALLY going to see some major transformations happening here.
The GE LED lighting is available in many different “temperatures” of color, something that can dramatically affect in how things look in your kitchen. I experienced this first hand after I painted my own kitchen recently. I loved the paint color in daylight, but at night, the color looked awful. I switched out to a softer LED bulb (3000K) and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. And I won’t be needing to change the bulb (or the wall color, thankfully) for 25 years!
I really wish our team, the Bedford family, had made it to this final round. They could have really benefitted from those new Frigidare Gallery appliances — the ultra efficient induction range alone is a huge safety boost for families with young children (less burning risk). There’s no need to replace existing cookware, either — if a magnet sticks to the pan, it will work with induction. And a convection oven is a must-have for those of us who love to bake.
The Sayers, of course, did not disappoint in this challenge by using some unconventional materials to maximize their budget — and because they are obviously just cool like that. I loved their use of the salvaged steel chalkboard as a backsplash; and that mirror in the kitchen (though I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning it) reminds me of my days as a culinary instructor, where we taught with a huge mirror over the butcher block. All this and surprisingly below budget!
The Reilly family has consistently been more traditional in their design choices, though I’ll admit I really liked what they did in the kitchen. Nothing wrong with the combination of white subway tile and dark grout, I always say. And the paint treatment on the cabinets? Spot On. No matter what team wins the grand prize, both these families have beautiful new kitchens to enjoy for years and years to come.
What do you think of the final room? Is it the Sayers family’s funky loft or the Reilly’s clean classic kitchen that should earn the $5000 grand prize? Watch and see who takes home the giant check below!
This is a sponsored post.
Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
This is a sponsored post.
It’s that time again — time for the next challenge in the Re-Energized by Design competition! This week, the remaining four teams are making over the living room. The Bedford’s room is dramatic, with vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows (with some broken panes). I found the space overwhelmed by the arc lamp and the red brick fireplace, but not in a good way. Also — there was not a lot of lighting options. Reading was impossible on the couch unless it was daytime, and entertaining? Dim lights might be fine for a nightclub, but for a family-friendly party? Not so much. The stairs were just exposed plywood splattered with paint. Not much on the walls in regards to art, either. Their furniture was good though — a nice neutral modern sectional, and an heirloom mid-century lounge chair and dresser.
Rather than using bold bright colors on the walls, we went dark — Dark gray on that red brick fireplace. Instead of painting everything one color, we only painted two walls in the dark gray; and used a lighter gray on an accent wall and staircase, leaving the rest of the room white, allowing the space to feel more intimate and cozy without overwhelming the space with such a dark color. And next to the fireplace, Slade put in some nice open shelving painted to blend into the wall, styled with art and objects from around the house. We also broke up their sectional and reconfigured it, and flipped over their old rug for a more industrial look. Kristen also repainted their coffee table glossy black.
Kristen made some colorful decoupage art; and I (along with my uber-talented seamstress pal Suzanne) got to work on some accent pillows, a floor pouf, and the reupholstering of the mid-century lounger with a colorful new fabric. I thought the chair turned out gorgeous, going from something you barely noticed to something that can anchor a space on its own. If you know me, you know I had to work in some of my signature vintage orange velvet, too. But I’m honestly proudest of that pouf: my first sewing project in 4 years, made entirely by myself, with NO PATTERN. The boys instantly gravitated toward it. Liam declaring it “his dice”, proceeded to toss it around the room and jump all over it.
In the energy improvement category, the Bedfords did a lot as well to improve their usage. Slade installed (from scratch) a LED track lighting system that we hid behind the beam, so we could add light around the room on the bookcases, on the couch, and on the new art. We also swapped out LED bulbs for incandescent in the other lamps around the room, adding significantly more light to the space while reducing the wattage in half. Slade caulked all the windows and beams, helping to reduce heat loss. They also put their stereo and charging docks on a smart powerstrip, so they can reduce that energy loss when not in use. And if that wasn’t enough, they reduced their thermostat 3 degrees to produce a significant savings in energy usage.
Alas, it wasn’t enough for the judges, sadly. I loved our room — basically, I think it all came down to a matter of points. I wish we had more time on this room, we could have done so much more. My project checklist had about 10 more to-do’s left unchecked, believe it or not. Our fatal error was when our plans to make fabric roman shades for the windows became impossible; rather than the shade choice made, I wish we could have thrown up some cute no-sew curtains on tension rods. I think that could have made enough of a difference to get us into the next round. Twenty-twenty hindsight, I guess. Honestly, I’m proud we made it this far; a lot of which I should credit to the valiant efforts of Kristen and Slade. Our rooms were up against some pretty stiff competition from professional architects and designers, so our rag-tag team of DIY’ers made a good show!
Stick around for next week’s post, where
I bitterly tear apart the remaining contestant’s rooms with derisive judgements we see how the competition proceeds with the laundry room challenge! Who will get the chop next?
Two years ago, we bought a two-bedroom house with a finished basement. One-and-a-half years ago, we had to un-finish the basement due to termites and mold. This summer, we’re finally, finally taking baby steps toward putting the basement back together. The first step was calling a plumber to consult on adding a utility sink (I would really like to be able to feed and water our super-drooly mastiffs in the basement) followed by a toilet and shower. Check out that beautiful corner where all of this will go! So far, we have absolutely no ideas of how we want it to look, though we’re pretty sure when it’s finished it will be much nicer than our upstairs bathroom. Our plumber won’t even be able to start until August, so it’s not going to be as delightfully speedy as Angela’s attic re-do. But like I said…baby steps. What do you think of this tile? — Mary T.
My knives are by far my most used and loved kitchen tools. They weren’t cheap by any means, but when you are a serious cook, you need serious equipment…serious equipment that I had neglected completely for two years. The blades were nicked, chipped, and impossibly dull. Cutting onions was sheer torture. So I finally gave in and took my knives to be professionally hand sharpened — and to be shamed by the proprietor:
“What kind of honing rod are you using on this?”
“Um…nothing. Sorry about all the nicks.”
When I got them back I was delighted with the results: knives sharper then when I brought them home from the store — we’re talking straight razor sharp — that diced up an onion as if it were nothing at all, and with nary a tear in sight! The knife sharpener advised me to get a ceramic honing rod (which is thankfully much cheaper than metal rods) for knife upkeep in between professional sharpening. I’ll never let them go dull again! This all leads to the question: How sharp do you keep your knives? — Megan B.
Photo by Flickr member Coultl
Last week I wrote about the renovation project in our new third floor attic space. You wrote in with amazing words of encouragement and some great tips. One of them: Don’t skimp on insulation! Our contractor said the same thing, and encouraged us to use this amazing foam insulation. (How amazing? Watch this YouTube video of it in action and see for yourself.) Spray foam insulation is polyurethane foam that is pumped between walls, ceilings — anywhere you need insulation. A bit more expensive than the traditional pink layers, it helps keep the heat inside during the winter and hot air out during the summer. Ours was finished up last week, and now that the dry wall is up, we can already feel how much nicer it is up there. In the top picture you can see the shape of the room. There is a staircase on the right (that leads down to a bedroom we’ll use as an office). You can also see the two grown-up-sized closets we’re making. People keep asking what we’re going to do with the room. Honestly, nothing at first — we won’t have any money left over for furniture! But someday I hope it will be a groovy hangout for our daughter and her pals. A sleep over spot. What could be better? — Angela M.