Outhouse insight.

The main bathroom wasn't very large. Barely enough room to turn around in, but stealing space from other areas to increase the size and functionality required thought, work and a total commitment to a vision. This wasn't going to be a simple paint job or even reconfiguration of amenities. This was going to require a tug or two on a loose thread that just might make your pants fall off. Out of necessity or frugality I've always been pretty adept at painting a pig, but this was going to be some amateur animal husbandry to transform a P.I.G. into a brand new "hawg"..


The hallway came out as I believe in many ranch style homes has become an obsolete or unnecessary concept. It compartmentalizes in a way that wastes space and flow. It's nothing more than a small maze.

Unless you need a corridor to a separate wing, there is really no purpose and eliminating the L-shaped one in this house added almost 50 sq ft and open sight lines to all directions. Also going from 6 small doorways in a concise area to 2 larger sliding doors in an open concept is a dramatic change.

30 years ago we preferred separation from our rooms and family so that we would have privacy from each other. Now we want to see our children from every angle every second.

We used to work and play outside all day and come in to our own personalized space, do our homework and whine about our parents. Now we need to make sure that our computer obsessed, fruit roll up chicken nugget eating ADHD spawn aren't hoarding Dorito bags to make a car bomb just outside of our view. Oh how we have advanced.

We've all lived long enough to see styles, colors and amenities come in and out of vogue. I've done country, Ralph Lauren, 60's and 70's revisited, 80's brass, millennial brushed nickel, modern, thrifty eclectic........you name it. The styles come and go and the goal is to chose something that is functional for our needs, aesthetically pleasing to our own eyes and others, and not so specific that it looks dated sooner than our budget for such things is sufficiently replenished.

And of course, color can be difficult on a level that is mind blowing. Turquoise and yellow kitchens in the 50's. Pink and green bathrooms in the 60's. Harvest gold and avocado living rooms in the 70's. Mauve and teal bedrooms in the 80's and a resurgence of neutrals in the 90's, have left many of us with complete tear outs. This was a 60 year old do-over from the floor joists, plumbing and electric, just for starters. There was no sense upgrading finishes without addressing the real problem first. So, while you're at it................


Function over form and timeless over "of the moment.". This supports my design inspiration for most projects and certainly needs to drive this one since I actually will be living with it for many years. I will be using this home for a template and showcase for future clients and ventures. It must work as well as play. It needs to have good bones, carefree plumbing, appropriate electrical impulses and a nice supply of conversation worthy shoes, just like any old girl should.

As bottom line is always a factor, making choices that are cost conscious will serve you well as the unforseen expense pops up like a mushroom in the Spring. Fast, furious and great tasting covered in egg and flour...............but it's still a fungus.

This house has the lower ceilings that all 50's ranch homes have, so keeping it as light as possible is key. Nothing is better for budget and timeless design than shiny white subway tile. I personally think that it should be used all or in part for 90% of bathroom, kitchen, laundry and mud room builds and renovations.. It's inexpensive, timeless, easy to install and always looks great. You never go wrong with white. Ecru, bisque, beige, chalk or whatever the hip term of the moment that's just a shade to the right or left, will always look dated in time, but white, is white. Perfect!

I chose a mixed medium mosaic for accent and trim. It is a combination of reeded glass (which will play off of the glass block insert by the door. There is brushed nickel to coordinate with the safety bars on the tub, and some shiny chrome to mirror the faucets and laundry trim. Yes I said "safety bars" and until I admit to the fact that I am, or will be old enough to appreciate the forethought, they were planned as a double row going horizontally across the back of the shower to look more like high end towel bars. But until I fall completely apart and simply need a crane to get me out of the tub,, we will refer to them as the "twerk bars"................just sayin'. And, finally a plain white accent mosaic component like the subway tile and a bit of cultured marble to anchor it with an upscale touch.

The large petrified would looking pieces in the upper right have been used as a vertical accent inside the shower and mimicked over the counter to add a custom look.

The accent piece going vertically has an interesting wood like quality.  It has "graining" with hints of taupes and beiges to help warm up the industrial "white" of its surround.

The countertops were a bit of a splurge. I chose a white quartz with just enough mica and mix to give it some sparkle. The 6 ft piece with sink was just about $1400, but is virtually maintenance free and will look like new in 30 years. Nice.

The cabinet base has been repurposed from the second bedroom and will be painted white with new chrome hardware to match the incoming faucets and shower fixtures. There will be glass shelves appearing to be floating from the vertical show tile. The toilet will be on the other side of the cabinet and will be facing the stackable washer and dryer that are stainless and gray coordinate with the rest of the color scheme.. Directly above the sink will be counter to ceiling mirror with cutouts for outlets and lighting.

We chose a light gray grout for a number of reasons. It gave the simple 3x6 classic subway tile a nice but subtle graphic quality. The gray is very current yet is timeless and always looks clean and minimal. The flooring is simple ceramic that looks like rough hewn travertine, and unless you are planning a 50k bathroom, why even bother with anything else. It is truly the best bang for your buck. This has simple hints of browns in the mostly gray and white veining and graining that give it a more sophisticated look. It also allows for a more tan or taupe version rather than gray in the future. It gives it some timeless longevity. The 12x24 size play nicely with the 1/4 size 3x6 subway surrounding the walls. These subtle attentions to symmetry give the room balance.


I sold all of the major appliances in the house (washer/dryer, stove and fridge) as one package to help offset the cost of new appliances throughout the house. I even bought the floor model units to save money. It is important to know that I bought units that I would have bought anyway. I didn't take a deal for the sake of the game, but took a great opportunity in front of me. A sale is only a great deal if you are truly happy with the product purchased. My Grandmother used to say, "If you want a doughnut..........eat the doughnut. Otherwise you will just eat everything else in front of you and still go back for the doughnut."

I ended up with a high end set of stackable laundry units with the amenities that I was looking for and color that I could live with, ON CLEARANCE. They were well over $2000 for the pair, and after discount, proceeds from other appliance, using my card for and extra percentage off, and a very kind salesperson, I ended up with the set, plus all of the hoses, venting, pigtail for dryer, stack set, delivery and set up for a total bottom-line out of pocket totaling $476. Saved about 2K to help balance the contingency fund.

The original laundry was located in the center of the house next to the kitchen. As many may not like the laundry in your bathroom, this was the best solution for this house and allows for the kitchen to be expanded, with no washer and dryer as the first thing you see when you walk in the front or back door.

Now after dealing with the bowels of the house.................. on to the kitchen. The Heart.