Category Archives: The Condo

A Guest Bathroom Renovation


This guest bathroom required a complete gut renovation. The toilet never worked properly, the vanity was falling apart, the tile was popping in various places, and the general aesthetic was stuck in 1989 (a great year in which I was born, but still). Peep some before shots:

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My vision for the new bathroom was fresh, inviting, and neutral with a little bit of brass bling. I created a mood board to organize my thoughts:


The general vibe of the mood board stayed the same through completion, but just about every piece changed from this initial conception. To accommodate various challenges that became apparent throughout the renovation process, we had to switch things up every now and then. Also, I decided that wallpaper probably isn’t the best idea when shower steam will be about. Also, I just change my mind a lot?

I decided to demo the bathroom myself to save some money, which, surprisingly, turned out pretty well! It took quite a bit of elbow grease to get everything out, but I learned a lot in the process about how various bathroom elements are constructed and placed. There was a slight snafu with the sink pipes in the vanity (maybe I’ll share that story later), but aside from that, I had no huge problems. Instead of hauling everything away myself, I called 1-800-GOT-JUNK to grab the demolished tile, vanity, and countertop. Good decision.


I thought that I would renovate the entire bathroom myself (tile installation, some plumbing), but I’m afraid I was a little too bold. I ended up hiring professional tile installers and plumbers to do most of the work. After months and months of slow-moving progress, the bathroom was complete!


One of the more dramatic elements of the bathroom is the shower tile that goes up to the ceiling. I love adding this detail to spaces because it makes the height of the room feel taller that it actually is. The hexagonal floor tile also adds a bit of drama that I’m seriously into, but I might refrain from this much marble for future projects (the vanity top is also marble). I’ve learned in this short period of time that it doesn’t wear very well, and I’m already seeing mysterious scratches and dents.guestbath2 I LOVE the contrast that brass elements provide against the mostly neutral palette of the space. The towel rod, towel ring, and toilet paper holder are from CB2. The mirror is from Wayfair, and the light fixture is from Illuminate Vintage.


More DIY: Simple Wainscoting



I’ve lived in my condo for about a year and a half, and up until now, the guest bedroom has been a LARGELY neglected space that vey quickly became a storage room for misfit housewares and an obligatory bed for the occasional guest. I’ve always had high hopes for this room. Even though it’s pretty small, it is a decent size for a second bedroom, and it gets better natural light than any other room in my place. One of the primary ideas that I had for this room was to create some sort of focal wall behind the bed; something that would be dramatic but wouldn’t juxtapose too harshly against the muted aesthetic prevalent throughout the most of the condo.

And so began a week-long journey of grand ideas, some big mistakes, a bad summer cold, and a pretty cool final treatment.

My initial idea was to design a wood-cladded feature wall, but after doing a lot of research and scoping out the necessary tools and supplies, I realized that it’d probably be more trouble (and money tbh) than it was worth. As much as I love a good wood wall, I do think that it would look outdated pretty quickly and I’d probably regret the labor and money that I put into it.

I moved on to thinking about creative solutions using paint, but I wanted it to have more impact than a simple paint job. I started by mocking up ideas that incorporated some kind of molding, 2x4s, or anything else that would give me a little bit of dimensionality and depth.



I liked the idea of using simple 2x4s from a local hardware store to create an interesting architectural moment. The wood would be nailed into the wall, and then the wood and exposed portions of the wall would be painted the same inky color. The more I thought about it, though, I became concerned that it would look a little too crafstman for the home. The modern lines of this option would clash a little with the more contemporary slant of the existing baseboard. So I moved on to…



Bearing in mind my revelations about option one, I figured that I should probably create something more in line with the overall aesthetic of the space. And because the existing baseboard is pretty easy to match, I decided to get a similarly designed trim to create a series of panels on the wall. Again, I would paint the trim work and the exposed wall a dark, inky tone. I really dug this idea, so I figured out the measurements and drove over to my vacation home (Lowe’s) to gather the necessary supplies.

I ended up buying this molding for the uppermost horizontal trim, and this decorative moulding for the panels. Lowe’s does actually sell pre-made picture frame moulding. They just didn’t have it available at the store, and because I’m slightly impatient about ordering things online, I decided to put in the extra work and cut the pieces by hand using a hand saw and miter box for the 45 degree angles necessary to create each panel (in retrospect, I should’ve just ordered the dang pre-made panels). At that point, it was simply a matter of sawing each piece to length.


After sawing each piece to the proper length, it was time to nail them into the wall. A more capable individual would probably use a nail gun for something like this, but… I’m not at a point where I feel comfortable enough using one to make that kind of investment, so I nailed in each piece of trim with a hammer. I made a handful of mistakes at this point: splitting pieces of trim, measuring the spacing incorrectly…but hey, you live and you learn. Oh, I also used a bit of wood glue to keep each piece in place while I nailed them in.

After all of the pieces were nailed up, I caulked all of the seams (this became a lot messier than expected), and once the caulk was dry, I started to paint the wall. And almost immediately, I got REAL sick. Like, barely-able-to-function-without-feeling-like-poop sick. I was so close to being done, though, so I just trucked through it. Consequently, I made a ton of mistakes, and had to repaint the same spots over and over and over and over again. Moral of the story: stop being so impatient and just rest when I’m sick like most normal/sensible people would do?


Anywayyy, it was fairly uncomplicated to design and it turned out pretty well! Now I just need guests.

Arranging Furniture in an Oddly-Shaped Space



This is a long post about living room furniture placement. If you’re into reading about that sort of thing, grab a pop-tart and hunker down for an in-depth look into the weird way my mind works. If you’re not into that sort of thing, grab a pop-tart and scroll down for some diagrams that might be more interesting for you.

When I first looked at my condo, one of the biggest question marks that arose was how I would arrange my furniture, television, and other belongings around the living room. It’s not quite any one shape: it’s one part square, one part rectangle (although I guess all rectangles are part square?), and one part triangle–mostly due to the fireplace sitting on a diagonal wall. And believe-you-me, I haven’t really had the furniture arranged any one way for more than a few weeks at a time for the entire year that I’ve lived here.

First off, there isn’t an entirely intuitive wall to put the television on that would be parallel to any logical sofa placement. I thought for a HOT SECOND about not putting the TV in the living room at all, and instead putting it in the second bedroom, but I quickly realized that that wouldn’t lend itself well to my lifestyle (and by “lifestyle” I mean “Netflix binge-watching habits”). With that in mind, the first location where I imagined the TV was above the fireplace, because that would make the most sense in terms of TV-to-sofa line of sight. The more I thought about it, though, the less I liked the idea. The TV would be too high for comfortable viewing, and sometimes I feel that TVs above fireplaces are a bit of a clunky eyesore (and after spending the resources to reface my fireplace, I certainly didn’t want to detract from any of it’s glory). I also knew that I wanted to hide the television cords behind a wall, and that didn’t really seem possible with the fireplace directly behind it.

The next wall to seem to make the most sense was the wall parallel to the bay of windows in the sunroom. I liked this idea the most because 1) it gave me the opportunity to hide the cords behind the wall, 2) because I would be able to see the TV from the kitchen, and 3) because I could envision some sort of gallery wall surrounding the mounted TV. Sold.

With that decision made, I needed to decide how I would arrange the seating area in relation to the TV. So, like a crazy person, I’ve sketched up a few diagrams to help me make up my mind.

Regardless of the layout, I knew that my new sectional would be staying on the wall perpendicular to the television. Admittedly not the most ideal placement in terms of cozy TV viewing, but after testing the layout for a couple months (before permanently installing the TV onto the wall), I realized that it didn’t really bother me at all, and made for the best flow around the space.


This is how I initially envisioned arranging the furniture because it really defines the “living” space of my open floor plan. I’m wondering, though, if it cuts off the space a little too much? The problem with the “living” space of the condo is that it is pretty small when you think about it, so trying to fit in three seating components becomes a bit cumbersome.


This layout feels the most symmetrical and traditional, but it doesn’t leave a lot of space for walking around the space. It feels a bit congested, but I do like how the armchairs frame the fireplace (Note: the chaise on the sectional  can be switched to either side).


This is how the room is laid out currently. I like it, buttttt. I don’t know. I think I wish that there was more space for more seating. But, let’s be honest, I’m not really throwing parties on the reg. Is this the winner?

I’ve also toyed around with the prospect of using a round coffee table instead of my beloved rectangular one, to allow for more space between seating elements. I actually went as far as creating a simple, DIY, round table, but for some reason it just didn’t feel right. Peep the photo:File_000 (9)

It might just be that the color is a little too light, but I haven’t gotten around to restaining it a darker color.

Any thoughts?! I could use some opinions!

I Bought a Condo?



Hi strangers!

Almost a year ago, and after many years of thought and planning before that, I decided to take the plunge and start looking for a home to buy. The possibility of being a homeowner is something that has excited me since I was a kid, so of course, I was completely thrilled to finally be able to get the process rolling. Since I wasn’t afraid of renovations, I tended to look at places that needed a bit of work. The big problem, though, was that I had a hard time reconciling finding a place that needed some work, that was in good enough condition to live in during what was sure to be a LONG renovation process, and that happened to be located in a desirable area relatively close to work and family. And a place that fit within my limited budget… in Northern Virginia. Big dreams.


BUT! After lots of home tours and more than a few upsets, I finally found my place. It’s a 1,000 square foot two bedroom, two bathroom condo in Fairfax, Virginia. It was built in the late 1980s, and not much about the condo has really changed since then. Original kitchen, original bathrooms, original fixtures (luckily it has a new refrigerator, microwave, and oven, though). It’s completely livable as-is, but I’ll definitely be changing mostly everything about the space over the coming years.


I can’t begin to describe how giddy all of this makes me. I have a tendency to focus intensely on random things for short amounts of time, so it’ll be a nice to focus that energy into the long-term project of renovating this condo. I’m going to do as many renovations as I can on my own, within reason, so I’ll be learning a lot along the way as well.


The to-do list is here…quite long. I’ve actually been living here for a few months now, so the list is significantly shorter than it used to be, but there is still a lot to do! I’ll be chronicling my renovations/struggles/victories here as they come, and talking a little about what I’ve already done up to this point.