An Unexpected Bathroom Update

When doing a large renovation, such as our basement, there is often extra “add-on” work. Usually something fun like redoing some flooring or something functional like adding air conditioning. It’s the classic “Well while we have the walls open…”

We had planned things out pretty intensely and were not expecting any add-on work. But when it came time to move the plumbing drains for the upstairs bathroom we discovered the old lead drain for the sink was draining into the toilet drain arm. The drain to the sink would need to be redone to meet modern code and it could not be fully accessed from the basement below. Our options were to cut a hole in our upstairs bedroom wall to access the drain from behind, or cut into the tiled wall in the upstairs bathroom and access it from the front. I chose the later because I have always wanted to put a true vanity in the bathroom instead of the over sized pedestal sink. I figured the vanity would cover the smallish hole the plumber needed to drop the old pipe down and pass a new PVC pipe up.

So I bought my 23 5/8″ wide Lillangen vanity from Ikea put ‘er together and was well on my way to floating vanity bliss. When it came time to do the plumbing, my contractor grabbed his grinder to grind out the hole. Again I’m thinking a smallish hole. He asks the size of my new vanity I say 24″. And what did he do, he went and cut a 24″ wide, 30″ tall hole in my wall.

upstairs bath

Lots of holes in the walls and the old pedestal sink

Now that there was no wall to use some toggle bolts to secure my floating vanity I decided she needed some legs. Not being a fan of the metal base Ikea sells I decided to make my own. So I grabbed the necessary tools: Miter saw, Kreg Jig, semi-willing husband, and got to work. I designed up a simple base and we got to work.

In the end we used a single select pine 2x2x8, some scrap 2×4’s, and lots of screws. Final cost being around $15. After we assembled it, I sanded it, primed it, and painted it with some BM Advance paint in Super white I had left over from the kitchen cabinets.

custom lillangen base

Then we did some major MacGyver-ing with 2×4’s, 1×4’s and shims to have a couple attachment points for the vanity to the single wall stud.

Ikea lillangen sink

The Ikea plumbing actually worked out beautifully. The faucet connections were the same as our previous Kohler faucet. And the Ikea drain system (the topic of many online horror stories) actually went together really easily with a 1 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ reducer from Ace Hardware.

Ikea lillangen sink and dalskar faucet

The cabinet and sink are only 16″ deep which makes the bathroom feel much bigger. I really love the trough sink and single handle faucet. I think the base actually makes the modern vanity blend in with the rest of the house better than having the cabinet float 5″ off the floor. Sometimes everything just works out.

Ikea lillangen

I’m hoping to add some pretty chrome pulls or knobs to the cabinet doors, but in the mean time I couldn’t be happier with our unexpected update.


Cabinet: Ikea Lillangen 2 door cabinet

Sink: Ikea Lillangen

Faucet: Ikea Dalskar


The Nook: Part II

I posted about the kitchen nook two years ago, and I am now very ashamed that it took me two years to actually finish it. We finished half the nook with the kitchen renovation but the wall opposite the countertop sat unfinished…until now!

We originally planned to do the same open shelving we had done on the other side. But, we had trouble finding the studs in our 100 year old plaster walls and were generally worn out on anything to do with updating a kitchen.

I ended up buying some cheap Ikea metal shelves. They worked okay but weren’t very stable on the unlevel floors and the bottom two shelves were basically useless because they are within snout reach of our dog.

So after two years of staring at those wobbly, dog hair covered metal shelves I could take no more.  I decided it was time for some out-of-dog-reach, attached-to-studs, matching shelving to go up.

I actually managed to find the studs with a stud finder (shock #1), and they were on 16″ centers (shock #2). I placed the shelves at the same height as the shelving on the opposite wall to make everything nice and symmetrical. I used the same Ikea Ekby Valter brackets (painted white), and 1×12 pine boards also painted white.

kitchen nook open shelves

I’m so happy to finally check these shelves off my list.

kitchen nook open shelves

Finishing the nook involved more than just the shelves. I also had to finish painting the ceiling, touch up the wall paint, paint the trim, and add shoe molding the the baseboards. It feels so good to not stare at all those unfinished projects everyday.

By adding a stool we can also using the nook as an extra eating area. I just pull out the kitchen cart and voila little breakfast nook for one (or two if I get another stool).

kitchen  nook

We debated adding one more lower shelf but decided to leave it as-is for now.

The other “original” side of the nook  looks pretty much the same as it did two years ago with the exception of a new kitchen aid mixer and toaster oven.

kitchen nook

After living with this kitchen for two years we are still really happy we decided to keep the nook and not just blow out the wall and continue on the kitchen. It serves multiple purposes (pantry, prep space, baking space, eat-in area) and adds some much loved character to the house.


Wall paint: Glidden Antique Beige, satin finish

Trim paint: Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Super White, satin finish

Cabinets: UltraCraft Cabinetry, Destiny Line, Shaker Style, in Arctic White Maple

Countertops: Ikea Numerar in Oak (discontinued, Akerby in oak is a good substitute)

Shelf Brackets: Ikea Ekby Valter 11″ in birch, painted white

Kitchen Cart: Ikea Bekvam painted with Behr Spring Stream

Stool: Target Carlisle Metal Counter Stool in Grey

Office Update: Gallery Wall and end of the January Cure

My goal was to finish the office during the month of January, as I participated in the January Cure. It is now mid-February and I am calling the office done…for now.

The reason the office did not get finished by February 1 is not me (I am perfect), it was the polar vortex. Besides causing major havoc and misery all over the United States, the freezing temps also delayed my spray painting, which delayed finishing the office. Again, this had nothing to do with me starting 100 projects at once and watching too much tv.

As I mentioned in this post, one of my goals for the finished office was to add a bulletin board. I found this bulletin board at Target for $10. The faux wood finish was gorgeous but I wanted a different look. I painted the frame with Rustoleum Metallics gold spray paint. Eventhough I sanded to frame to rough it up, the spray paint pooled in some spots and didn’t want to stick. After it dried, I used some antique gold rub ‘n buff to cover any wood that was peeking through where the spray paint did not stick. I then painted the cork with a sample pot of paint, Mariner by Martha Stewart. I like the navy and gold combo, and if I tire of it I can always paint it a new color or use some fabric to cover it.

navy and gold bulletin board

The other frames are Ikea Nyttja frames. I used the same spray paint, rub ‘n buff method with them. Again, I had issues with the spray paint adhering. Not sure if it was user error (likely), or if I need a primer over these plastic surfaces.

I made a calendar with one of the large nyttja frames. On the back of the plexi glass I drew a calendar grid with navy sharpie. I then attached a piece of scrap white fabric. I put the frame back together and added the month and day numbers with the same sharpie. When I need to change the month a little rubbing alcohol takes the sharpie off of the plexi glass. (You could also use a dry erase marker and skip the rubbing alcohol step). Immediately after I finished this grand feat of engineering I noticed I do not have enough spaces in the grid for a month with more than 28 days. Looks like I have some fixing to do, or I can just forget the last few days of the month exist.


I used white fabric scraps to back all the frames. The thin fabric worked really well in the smaller frame, but tends to pull oddly in the larger frames. I will probably try a thicker fabric in them. I added a black and white picture to the smaller nyttja frame and I’m still thinking about what pictures to add to the other large frame. The small square brown frame is from Target long ago and houses a watercolor painting of mine.

gallery wall

As for the rest of the office…things are looking good.

Office full

The rug is from Target and used to be in the bedroom. The desk chair is also from Target. It’s from their Room Essentials line and I haven’t seen it listed online. The desk was a thrift store find.

The aqua cart is the raskog cart from Ikea. I had absolutely no use for it, but bought it anyway. That is how it came to live in the office. The jury is still out if it actually works in here, but functionally it is great. It holds all the internet stuff in the bottom, and stationary in the other shelves.

On the other side of the room I made a seating area. I bought these chairs at a thrift store last year with plans to reupholster them…that didn’t happen. I hope to reupholster them this summer, but in the meantime they make a nice place to sit in the office.


The large shelving unit behind the chairs is West Elm from a while ago. I actually found mine on Craigslist about 2 years ago.

That’s the new and improved office. Did the cure work? I think so, being that the ultimate goal was a cleaner more organized space. The office started as a big disorganized closet and now we actually enjoy the space. It not only looks better; it is 100x more functional and has become a room we actually use.

Well done January Cure. See you in 2015.

Laundry Room: Ikea Cabinets

I finally entered a new level in home renovation adventures: Ikea Cabinets.

As with assembling anything from Ikea, there were some curse words. But, it was relatively painless and the end result looks great.

Ikea laundry room cabinets

We chose the Ikea Akrum cabinet frames in white with Applad door and drawer fronts. The Applad is slab door in a white semigloss finish. It’s a really nice finish and fits the simple, clean look we are going for in the laundry room.

Ikea laundry room cabinets

The laundry room is very long and narrow. To maximize the space, we used a carousel corner cabinet and set of drawers on the short side. We left an open space in between the corner cab and the next cabinet, to allow for a space to sit while folding my freshly laundered towels.

Ikea laundry room cabinets

The next cabinet is a door and drawer combo. I planned on using the shelves for holding laundry baskets, and the drawer for small laundry stuff (scissors, lonely socks, etc.)

On the opposite wall, I used a base cabinet, and a 12″ deep, 39″ tall upper cabinet directly on top of the counter.

Laundry room ikea cabinets

I had seen similar set-ups in kitchens that I really liked, so I decided to go with it in the laundry.

The counters are Ikea’s new Akerby countertop. They discontinued my fave Numerar in Oak and Akerby is a close second. The difference between the two is Numerar is solid wood; Akerby is particleboard that is covered with an 1/8″ layer of oak. Having the Numerar in the kitchen, I can not see a huge difference. The Akerby is a tad lighter probably due to the fact that it is prefinished with a hard wax and my Numerar is oiled. Bottomline: They both look really great and are a super cheap wood countertop option.

We still need to add filler pieces (in between the wall and the base cabinets), toe kick, and handles. Those things will really finish off the cabinets. One step closer, a hundred to go…


Cabinets: Ikea Akrum with Applad fronts

Countertops: Ikea Akerby in Oak

Laundry Room

As the weather gets warmer, I’ve got renovation on my mind and the laundry room is first on the list. In its current state the laundry room is cold, dingy, and slightly creepy. This spring we plan on replacing the windows and patching the walls so that we can add all the pretty things you see below.
ash and orange laundry room
1. Color on the walls. I’m thinking of a nice blue/green/gray. I found this swatch listed in the 26 best Grays from House Beautiful. It’s Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.
2. Adding some much needed light. The IKEA Foto light would work, but I’m thinking of hacking some clamp lights from the hardware store for the same effect.
3. Some pretty storage baskets. These Threshold Baskets at Target are great.
4. I plan on leaving the exposed copper pipe unpainted for nice contrast with the blue green walls.
5. Wood countertops. I’m a big fan of the IKEA Numerär countertops in our kitchen nook and would like to use them in the laundry room as well. They add some nice warmth and color to the room.
6. Open storage. At $14.99 it doesn’t get much better than the IKEA Hyllis shelving unit.
7. New floors. We bought this groutable vinyl flooring on closeout last year and can’t wait to put it down.
8. Classic white cabinets. IKEA Akurum cabinets with Harlig or Applad plain white doors.