This weekend, Scott and I are headed to Mission Viejo, California, where we’ll be diving head first into Akiyo’s family room – with plenty of paint brushes, rollers, lots of lumber and tubes of caulk in tow! We can hardly contain how excited we are to get started. Since announcing the Lowe’s spring makeover campaign in February, we spent hours and hours (and hours) going over each and every application. Your families’ stories showed up in my dreams, your names were thrown around the dinner table as if we were BFFs, and not a day went by that we didn’t say to each other, I wish we could makeover ALL the homes. All of them! So, thank you for sharing your homes – and more importantly, your lives – with us. Thank you for injecting your personalities all over your submissions, and thank you to everyone who gave shout-outs to Jack and Chunk. They howl back at ya, arooo!
All that to say, we are so happy to have ‘met’ Akiyo and her family. Together with her 5-year-old son, husband and teeny pup, Katsu, they have recently moved in with her dad, back into the home she grew up in. This home, now her family’s forever home, has been mostly untouched for years, and they were stumped on where to start and how to make it work for everyone – dad/grandpa, their own trio and Katsu, too! It has become a multi-generational home full of silliness and laughter. The family room is where they secretly practice their dance moves (sorry, Akiyo!), sing karaoke and unwind at the end of a long work day. Coming in at 300 sq. ft., the space is so full of potential, and our minds raced with possibilities. Family room, there is so much in store for you!
Here’s what you see when you first walk in:
The room is flooded with natural light and an entire wall of windows(!), but almost every piece of furniture is pushed up against the remaining three walls (or under arrest as Scott would say!). Their biggest concern is making sure that there is sufficient seating for the entire family to gather together, snuggle up to a movie or work on crafts at the coffee table. With no central overhead fixture, there is a lack of ambient lighting in the evenings, and the mirror – although great for practicing those dance moves! – feels a bit dated. Katsu has created his own doggie door, i.e., there is a cartoonish puppy-shaped tear through the screen door. The beige walls and carpet could use a pick-me-up, and some extra storage would be nice! Let’s take in a 360-view:
We’ve been working behind the scenes on a design plan, and the last couple of months have been a blur of emails, texts and photos of paint swatches. But even more exciting? Progress is already being made! A ceiling junction box has since been installed, and the wall of mirrors, once adhered with liquid nails, has come down, revealing a sweet little note from the original homeowners. It reads: Wayne Davis | Louise Davis | 1974 | Our new home and mirrors. The message is complete with a sketch of an owl on his perch:
Also? New floors! You guys, we have new floors! (Okay, Akiyo + family have new floors, but we’re too invested at this point.) We chose this porcelain wood-look tile and had it installed in a random pattern with similarly colored grout. When Akiyo shot us this progress photo, our jaws dropped. The groundwork has been laid! All the celebratory emojis!
With a place for everything, and everything in its place, we’re officially calling the bathroom done! It’s been a few months since we first shared our plans, but the entire process felt surprisingly painless. After last year’s kitchen debacle still weighing heavy on our minds, we’ll be the first to admit that we were overly cautious when it came to hiring a contractor to rough in the new room layout, plumbing and electrical. We took a different approach and hired Jen, a designer by trade (more details here), but looking back, we could really consider her service as a peaceful, pre-demolition therapy session. Her role was to help us plan a proper layout (i.e., what works vs. what doesn’t), but the most invaluable part of her service was interviewing and negotiating with contractors. As a result, we hired a GC that we love (this was half the battle!) who carried out the plans – on schedule! – and left us with a big blank slate we could dive right into. Side note: If you need a Jen in your life, feel free to send me an email. Depending on your needs, it may be affordable than you’d think. I’m happy to spread the good word!
Our goal was to keep it feeling pretty and fresh, minimal for the most part. While we debated a soft color for the walls (even going so far as to paint swatches of soft grays, greens and pinks!), the simplicity of a bright white bathroom can’t be beat. On our walls: Silent White by Clark+Kensington.
We were able to enlarge the footprint of our bathroom by pushing back the shower wall almost 3′, but despite this leap in space, it was still somewhat challenging to find a double sink in the 48″ we’d allotted. Enter: IKEA! We personalized a GODMORGON cabinet with walnut fronts from Semi Handmade and topped those with 18″ Larkin pulls. The warm brass in the room mixed with a base layer of polished chrome and topped with these hearty oil-rubbed bronze sconces has our hearts. We say, mix all the metals!
With the vanity cabinet chosen and installed, the next hiccup was finding a mirror that was wide enough to span both sinks and still be tall enough to fill the space! Originally, you might remember that we were leaning towards double mirrors, but with two sinks, two faucets and two sconces, we realized that two mirrors might be overkill. We ultimately landed on the Upton mirror, a 40″ square, which, you guys, is huge! At the time we decided that this one fit the bill, it was out of stock, but we pre-ordered during a holiday sale and crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t be delayed too long (luckily, it only took a month, arriving during tile install). We weren’t in love with the mahogany finish, so I used a small foam roller to brush on two coats of our favorite black, Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine by Clark+Kensington. Side note: We started with 1 gallon of that color in an exterior grade satin finish years ago! We’ve since painted our porch swing, kitchen island, sliding doors and now this mirror – and we still have paint left.
We love the idea of art in the bathroom – the quirkier, the better! With the room’s color scheme falling heavily into the black and white category, we wanted to have a little fun with it.
We picked a couple of new pieces for the room, one of our tops being from local artist, Ryan Duggan. It’s a typical Chicago street view, but do you spot the dog? Ryan created an entire series around shitting dogs – it’s true! – and what better room to make an appearance? (If you’re not a fan of his already, you’re about to be! We have this one hanging in our entryway, and it makes us smile every day.)
Speaking of, uh, dogs, can I just say, we love our toilet! We thought we’d go with something sleek and streamlined, but we surprised even ourselves by choosing the more ornate Kathryn toilet during our trip to Kohler. The flush is quiet and oddly powerful at the same time, and the lid has a soft close which is so, so nice.
With minimal counter space on our sink vanity, we opted to install a sweet marble shelf above Kathryn, having only minor hesitation about drilling into our new tile. (We even picked up a marble toilet brush which is part ridiculous, part awesome.) With the first pilot hole done, there was no turning back – and we are thrilled with it! The marble pattern lends so much on its own, but I was happy to have a landing spot for this gold tooth planter by Christi Ahee we’d been eyeing for a while.
To top it off, we hung a photo from our recent travels down Route 66! I love nice repetition in photography, and we liked the soft colors from this abandoned motel in Amboy, California. Side note: I’ve since added Amboy #1 to The Print Shop, and Chicago locals, you can pick up the planter and more of Christi’s work at Humboldt House, too! HH is worth the trip.
Moving on to the floors, as much as we love the look of a vintage rug in a bathroom, we were determined to find something that was easily washable. The simple pattern on this one was a win for both of us, and it allowed the focus to remain on the black and white hex tile we worked so hard on! It’s nice and thick, but the back isn’t as non-slip as I’d like, so I cut down a rug pad remnant to keep it in place.
We couldn’t be happier with how the room turned out – a result of 3 weeks of demolition, an endless amount of tiling and a good month (or two!) of painting, fussing and installing those final layers that brought us to completion. Of course, what’s a reveal post without the satisfying before and afters? Until I dug up these photos, I had forgotten how bad it really was. Oof. But moving on! Let’s go!
We made a huge amount of progress in the bed and bath over the last week, so much so, that we’re now pulling our favorite hoodies out of a real, live closet. You guys, we have a bedroom closet for the first time in three years! And, and! All of our hair goos, toothbrushes, face potions and dog shampoos are living in the master bathroom! We’ve officially moved out of the first floor guest bath, and we’re finding so much happiness in the rooms that we’ve spent all our time working on for the last several months. Sometimes, in my morning half-sleep, I’ll walk all the way downstairs to grab my toothbrush, only to remember – oh, yeah! – everything is now tucked away, nicely, only a few steps from the bed.
With all the systems in place, the next step was making sure we had the tools to ensure sanity and order for all the things. I measured the depths, widths and heights of every drawer, shelf, unit and even below-the-bed space. With our numbers in hand, we took this list to IKEA and picked up containers to – well, contain. (This is otherwise known as my most favorite thing to do, like, ever.)
No department was left unseen! (Scott, by the way, is such a champion at IKEA. It is weirdly fun for both of us.) We stocked up on kitchen containers, media bins and, of course, all the nifty organizers that are specially made to IKEA specs to fit only IKEA things.
The TILLSLUTA food jars were one of our favorite finds for wrangling and stacking smaller like-items such as bandages with ointments and ibuprofen with Dayquil.
The VARIERA bins work well in the nook, but you can see we used them in our vanity (below), too! Let’s take a peek inside our proverbial medicine cabinet:
During the renovation, we added a GFCI outlet behind our vanity. Below, you can see that the vanity we chose has an open back, and we used strong tape to adhere a small power strip to one of the slatted drawer backs. We keep the strip powered off unless in use, and it’s a great little hiding spot for charging our toothbrushes and Scott’s razor while keeping the counter clutter-free:
As we organized, we tossed expired medications (or anything unlabeled, really), and we donated our mis-matched baskets and bins that were no longer a good fit. The empty cubbies make me incredibly happy!
With the bathroom all set, we moved into the bedroom and got working on filling up our PAX closet system – the KonMarie way! For anyone who has read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you might be nodding along. If you haven’t, the KonMarie method for cleaning out your closet is, by far, my favorite way to purge. (Hi, I’m Kim, and I love purging.) It may seem daunting at first – it’s certainly more time consuming! – but by laying every item of clothing you have on the floor (or in our case, the bed) and only putting back the items that spark joy, you no longer have an excuse to say, I have nothing to wear! It has felt liberating to rid ourselves of items that have been around for far too long for somewhat nostalgic reasons, but also out of guilt – like, if a shirt once belonged to a parent and you maybe wore it twice in high school, for example. Following KonMarie, we thank the item for its time, and we donate so that it can bring joy to someone else. Our closet’s (and home’s) real estate is far too precious.
We added LED lights to our PAX system, which have the option to stay on, stay off or turn on and off automatically. We have them set to auto, and it’s always a happy surprise when we open those doors, like icing on a cake:
You might remember that I chose double wide drawers, which allowed me to fit three by two rows of clothing. The only thing I didn’t think of – as obvious as it may seem – is that I need to have both doors of my closet open to access them. But my goodness, the space! I’ve never had a dresser that allowed for this much room, so consider me thrilled:
Scott opted for single drawers, and he included an organized space for his ties, too:
As much as we love our closets’ guts (literally), can we take a moment to talk about the doors? Heart-eyes, rainbows and unicorns all day long!
Although we originally thought we would trim the doors with decorative trim molding, we hit a road block; because we recessed the closets in an enclosed space, the extra depth the trim added wouldn’t allow for the doors to open properly. Womp. But as the rest of the room has started to come together, we realized we weren’t too upset by this turn, and once we added these 18″ Mission pulls (more rainbows and unicorns!), we couldn’t care less!
We did, however, call in the professional help of our friend Meg to give the doors a new white finish. Wanting them to match our existing trim, Meg’s team at MegMade gave them a fresh coat of Behr’s Ultra Pure White (the same as the trim and ceiling) and finished the look with a satin clear coat. The finish is absolutely perfect! (Side note 1: if you’re in Chicago and looking for one-of-a-kind furniture or need your own piece refinished, Meg is your girl! You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is. Side note 2: As a good friend of ours, I think everyone should know how boss she is. I love her, and you will, too.)
Phew! Are you still with me? I could talk about organizing all day long, but instead, I’ll say this: The bathroom is officially done! Photos to come.