In the midst of noise, trouble, and hard work

There’s a ladder living in our bathroom.


A small seven-word sentence. It doesn’t even have an exclamation point at the end. Although it should!

In 2011, when we became official owners of this little cottage, the bathroom was the first room we intended to refinish. It’s small, we thought; yes, start small. But then we ran into a few problems, so Mr. H.C. decided it would be better to redo the kitchen first. Now, six years later we are finally starting on the bathroom. The photos below show you what we’ve lived with for lo, these many years…

Yes, it would definitely win the Ugly Bathroom Contest. And just so you won’t think us total Appalachian hillbillies, I will show you the finished door that goes in to this contest-winning bathroom…

Through these years, we have collected most everything we need. Remember it was the first room we were going to tackle? Practically the first thing we bought for the house was the bathroom vanity and mirror. They’ve been against the wall in the garage bedroom covered in plastic all this time. The truth is often Not Pretty; but there is a glass-half-full outlook  — We already have:

  1. the sink,
  2. the sink faucet,
  3. the shower head and handles
  4. the vanity,
  5. the mirror,
  6. the lights,
  7. the toilet,
  8. a lovely cabinet with glass doors that was left over from the kitchen project,
  9. the tile for the shower floor,
  10. the tile for the vanity top, and, drum roll please….
  11. the pull-down attic ladder that will go in the ceiling — which was the initial problem that stopped this bathroom project all those many years ago.

That long list above, makes the list of still-to-purchase items rather short: subway tile for the shower walls, a shower pan, some incidental plumbing materials, and ceiling boards. Oh, and paint. And maybe a glass-block window. We haven’t really decided about the window yet. That’s the least of our worries; we haven’t gotten to that wall yet…

But can I just be honest and say, this prolonged bathroom project has made for a lot of anxiety and needless tension? The last unnecessary comment I made was earlier this year: Mr. H.C. thought maybe we could invite some folks over for dinner.
We have a lovely kitchen.
We have a lovely dining room.
We have a lovely porch.
We have a lovely living room.
Did I focus on any of those? No.
I said, “No one is getting invited here for dinner until the bathroom is finished.”
I mean, let’s face it: you can’t invite people for dinner and then shove them out the door right after dessert because you don’t want them to use your bathroom….

Bathroom wall — looks like old Italian plaster, eh?

Yes, there it is again: the ugly truth. It’s right up there with those ugly bathroom walls.

And no, I never have had peace about living in the midst of a really ugly bathroom. Oh, every morning when I take a shower, I’m grateful for the hot running water. I lived without running water for several years, so I know about praise for hot showers…

It’s just that I really appreciate beauty, and there’s been no beauty in this bathroom for a long time…except in my mind’s eye. And I can’t show you any pretty photographs yet, because we are still in the midst of noise, trouble, and hard work. In fact, it’s only just now begun… But I can say that it is certainly easier to have peace knowing that the noise, trouble, and hard work will soon morph into that finished bathroom that has lived in my head for so long,

The longer the wait, the more we appreciate.

141. A Rant: How Can Color Go Out-of-Style?

Editor’s Note: The writer has never in her adult life claimed to be in style or cared about being in style. Yet, like everyone who has eyes and ears, the writer is affected by what she sees, so in that case, we are all affected by what is in style, whether we want to be (or care) or not. 

This post has been swirling around in my head and on my computer for months. It’s been edited and re-edited. Mostly it just irritates me that there are Colors of the Year. Indeed, how can a color go in and out of style?

ColorWheelJewel tones? lush emerald, dark ruby red, and midnight blue. Beautiful always, yes?

Nature tones? pine green, autumn rust, walnut brown? Beautiful always, yes?

Brights? sunny yellow, lime green, sky blue? Beautiful always, yes?

Designers and style companies tell us that the number one way to sell your house faster is to get rid of those “out-of-style” paint colors and “do fresh.” Shabbiness and fading aside, I’d just like to point out that the colors we’re being told to paint over now, are the colors we were told to paint then.

Earlier this year (when we still had a house on the real estate market) Zillow sent me an article called Top 5 Home Design Trends of 2015. I don’t know why I read it; curiosity, I guess. But it just irritated me greatly. (Judging from the comments, this was true for many people…) So in case, you care about such things, midnight blue is in, coral and other Bright Colors are out — according to this particular designer. I’m not sure how she could proclaim that coral is out, but she did. Perhaps it is now called Melon?

A few years ago I remember reading that the new bright colors reflected the happy, positive mood of consumers. I guess we’re not happy any longer… (I’m very glad that Midnight Blue is back in, though. I painted a dining room wall that color in 1982; I loved it then, and I still love that color now.)

About fifteen years ago my daughter wanted a mint green formal for the senior prom. We went to every JoAnn Fabric store in Western PA (and there are a lot!) until finally some nice clerk at the fabric counter took pity on me. No, she told us. You can’t get that color this year. It just isn’t being made. You can get this pretty celery green, instead?

This is just one of the RGB charts available from My Practical Skills, a design student's dream site.

This is just one of the RGB color charts available from My Practical Skills, a design student’s dream site. Can you pick the shades that are in style?

Yes, we can’t have everything all the time, but for ten years I looked for deep forest green accessories to go with a rug — pillows, curtains, fabric, bedspread — anything!

Nothing — that’s what I found. So if a color is not “in” just wait ten years until your rug wears out…

Yes, there are way more important issues in the world, but isn’t this symptomatic of our Western culture of materialism? Planned obsolescence — if the color is out-of-style then we’re likely to replace it, aren’t we? That deep, dark green that is the color of pine trees? Out? Outre? Not available? Because a bunch of industry leaders in a board room got together and decreed it, so they can sell more stuff in a different “updated” shade of green?

In my humble opinion :-) color should not be associated with in style or out-of-style. If you want to call my shirt or my couch or my lamp out of fashion, fine. But leave color out of it.

I found the tablecloth below– unopened in its original package — in an antique store last fall. I loved the colors, and they go in my dining room perfectly. I know that the tablecloth is probably out, but I. Don’t. Care. It’s perfect, and I smile every time I put it on the table. Isn’t that what color is about?

And the color on my dining room wall?

Yep, I still love that deep forest green of pine trees. Only now it’s back in. Just don’t call it Forest Green.

131. The sixth wall

There’s nothing like company coming for Easter dinner to inspire…

The crown is finished; crown moulding the pocket door runs smoothly on its track and actually locks; Bathroom pocket door painted in Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk the built-in display has trim and real shelves and serving dishes; dining room built-in art is hung on the painted walls; Dining room and our black and white photo wall is done, mostly.

bathroom pocket door

Our shoulders are light, the weather is warmer, and it’s time to think now of outside projects.

But just in case the gentle reader thinks we now live in a perfect-ly beautiful house,

we open the lovely pocket door to this:

Bathroom -- Before

Yeah, paintbrushes still compete with toothbrushes in the bathroom sink.