When we moved into this house the prior owner had made some changes - some good and some bad. He added nice deep crown molding to the ceilings in some rooms and nice chunky baseboards.  He framed the windows, too - but he also tiled the kitchen, family, laundry and powder rooms with 12" boring white-ish tile and abundant grout.  I wasn't fond of the tile, or the grout, but it was functional and we knew we would eventually replace it.  In the powder room he got a little creative and took the same tile 1/2 way up the wall as wainscoting.

It reminded me of a gas station restroom.

I lived with it as long as I could, but with the flooring being replaced throughout the ground floor, including the powder room, it had to go.

I told the contractor to remove the wall tile along with the floor tile.  I was so excited it was going, I didn't even really mind that much when he broke the pedestal sink in the process....

We found a beautiful new sink.

Then the snowball happened... you know, one thing leads to another... the job gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger - kind of like a snowball rolling down the hill - [like the cartoon] - and getting bigger and bigger...and taking out everything in its path...

We purchased a new toilet to go with the new sink... and I really did like the new sink better than the old one, but the old faucet - well it looked a little sad on that beautiful new sink!

We bought a new faucet.

And a tissue roll holder and towel ring because the old ones were....brown

Removing the tile on the walls left them beat up and needing repair.  It was the perfect opportunity to add a little charm.

A new wainscot from wide plank bead-board seemed like the perfect solution.  We painted it a soft white, and the walls above it Magnetic Gray - Benjamin Moore.

(I love this color - it's gray with a blue/green undertone... amazing)

I framed the egg prints I picked up on Portobello Road in London - 
using frames I picked up at Home Goods.  

The room was looking great with the new paint, beadboard, sink, toilet and faucet, but the old ventilation fan was super noisy and rattle-y.  I replaced the noisy fan with a quiet quiet quiet one...

and added crown molding.

Now the light fixture needed updating.  That was the plan all along, but it proved more difficult than it should have.

The new light fixture arrived in a big box and I left instructions for it to be installed while I was out.  I came home to the light fixture installed - but in brushed nickel (I'd ordered polished chrome) - and the contractor had taken the trash when he left, including the box and papers. I couldn't return it.  I was stuck with it.  It was beautiful.  It was just - wrong.

I ordered a new fixture.

Its installed.  Its functional.  I don't love it.
I have two great light fixtures.. going cheap...anyone?

Sometimes even designers have trouble finding the perfect fixture....I'm still looking...

But in the meantime, I hung my antique, worm-eaten, pine shelf behind the toilet and filled it with family memories...

The double decker bus tin from Harrods is there, and the sardine tin from my son's trip to Norway...home of our ancestry...(one of them, anyway)
and the SS United States ocean liner tin - a ship I traveled on as a child...

and an antique brown medicine bottle from a trip to Texas...

And the snowball - well, its as big as a house...
and growing...

Anyone else have a snowball episode?  Love to hear about it - tell me all about it in the comments!


In the meantime... a question from a reader.

Hi Claudine,
I am renovating my smallish kitchen. I am putting in glossy white cabinets, ice mist glass tile backslash, a dark gray silestone conter top and a charcoal gray floor tile in 12 by 24 tiles. Seeking a wall color to go with this kitchen. Kitchen flows right into living room. I need help picking wall colors. Living room has a lot of natural light and Kitchen not as much. Thank you for your help.


Hi Debby,
With the neutral palette you have described you have a lot of options.  Since the kitchen lacks natural light, you should test any color you like on poster board under the incandescent or led lighting of the kitchen - it will affect the color.  You haven't mentioned any colors you like, and I'm assuming you will carry the color into the living room, so we need to also look at the color in that room - but here are a few tried and true neutral colors you may like with the gray and white palette you have chosen.

Edgecomb Gray (light gray with beige undertone)

Gray Owl (sometimes a slight green undertone)

Accessible Beige (cool toned beige)

Magnetic Gray (muted blue green undertone)

Try painting some as samples on poster board and try them out in the room at different times of day and in different light -
Good luck!

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