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Alley Squash Blog

Summer of Change: A New Company + A Home Renovation

Featured in Apartment Therapy!  


The biggest changes in life seem to happen in multiples. When I got married, my husband and I bought our first place and shortly thereafter I got a new job.  When I had my first child, we left our beloved condo and upgraded to a row home. I also turned 30 and… got a new job. Whether it's a domino effect or a new sensibility, it never seems enough to have just one major life uproot!

This summer I left a workplace that meant a lot to me. It's where I was when I had both of my kids; where I was afforded the chance to be a mom, first and foremost, while working on projects that kept me stimulated, creative and social.

Yet as with other times in my life, this career change would not happen in isolation. Our basement tenant (and honorary family member) Sarah got a new job in a new city. She moved out and altered our house dynamic, leaving us with an entire level of space we had never occupied. This set into motion a much-talked-about home renovation project on the upper floors. It also proceeded to occupy the better half of my thoughts from July until mid-September.

So while it doesn’t have much to do with forming Alley Squash, I feel compelled to share what became my summer's biggest distraction -- and inspiration.


The Planning

Since blogs were a thing I've looked at mood boards with envy. Needless to say, I was excited to create my own. We decided on a few things early on which set the tone: our beautiful porcelain floor tiles from Stone Source and light fixtures from Schoolhouse Electric. As the project lagged, we had more time to fine tune the rest, including the addition of a larger vanity and painted feature wall in the kids bath.


Enter Ugly Bathroom

 Existing family bathroom

Existing family bathroom

A sea of beige.  When house hunting, my husband and I had a nickname for rooms like these, "HDR." That's short for "Home Depot Renovation" - or whatever was on sale in the tile department when the contractor flipped this house.  I was desperate to get rid of floor to ceiling tile and the old school vanity.


The After

 Kids bathroom

Kids bathroom

Good advice and a simple plan from our architect moved the toilet to an opposite niche behind the tub which freed up space for a larger vanity. Otherwise the layout of the bathroom remained the same.

Resources: Tratto Lines (White, 8x12”) Tiles from Stone Source; IKEA Hemnes Vanity with Kohler Purist knobs and faucet in brushed bronze; Standard 3x6” Subway Tiles with dark grey grout and Kohler Purist shower head/tub faucet; Isaac Sconce, Long Arm in White, Schoolhouse Electric; Salvaged five panel door from Community Forklift; Crate & Barrel Mirror.


Pièce de résistance

 Stencil Wall

Stencil Wall

I wanted a wallpapered accent wall - badly. But I kept worrying about whether to use temporary wallpaper, whether it would peel, and how expensive it was. The end result was a stenciled wall. I used French Gray base with Barely Blush and Lagoon Green accents (all Glidden paint, Home Depot). The stencil is from Royal Design Studio.


Master Suite

 Left: Existing view from Master Bedroom; Right: Nursery

Left: Existing view from Master Bedroom; Right: Nursery

The plan for the master suite was to punch through the wall to connect the master bedroom to an adjacent room we had used as a nursery. The nursery was the smallest bedroom upstairs and the only one with paneled walls and a drop ceiling. 

Like many old homes, the master bedroom didn't have a closet, so we used the nursery to add a walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom.  The result is better than I could have hoped. It was a trying process, but has transformed our space into one I know we will enjoy for years to come.

Resources: Azulej Redna Nero 8x8” porcelain floor tiles, Stone Source; Kitchen Bath Collection California 48” Vanity in Grey, All Modern; Kohler Purist faucet and shower head in brushed bronze; Maiolica 4x10” porcelain shower tiles; Threshold Mirror in brass, Target; Davis Double Sconce in brass, Schoolhouse Electric.


A labor of love complete!

Special thanks to Megan Mitchell, AIA, for a simple plan and lots of good advice.