What Architectural Features we Keep in a Remodel // On Apartment Therapy

We are deep in the trenches of refinishing our hardwood floors, but I waned to pop over and share this Apartment Therapy article with you guys.  I wrote about how Garrett and I decide which original features stay and which go when we’re renovating old houses, something I think a lot of remodelers struggle with.  For us, the decision is oftentimes a little bit of a debate, but like all things in marriage, compromise creates the best outcome.  Usually…

Check the article out here!


Dexter House kitchen remodel

Hope your week is going well!  If you find yourself in need of a little more reading material, you can catch my first article for Apartment Therapy (7 tips to saving money on a remodel) here.



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My Money-Saving Tips on Apartment Therapy (and links to projects shown)


I’m over on Apartment Therapy today, sharing 7 money-saving tips for renovations that Garrett and I have learned over the years. Check it out here!

And if you don’t recognize the bathroom above, that’s because I’ve never shared the ‘after’ photos before. It’s the Dexter House‘s main bathroom, which we refreshed just before moving out. I shared a couple of details about the quick and inexpensive makeover in the Apartment Therapy article, if you’re interested.

All of the other photos that are in the article are from our projects too. I’ve included links below: the-grit-and-polish-apartment-therapy-projects-collage-text

Projects: 1. #6daykitchenreno | 2. Dexter Mudroom  | 3. Dexter Kitchen | 4. Dexter Master Bathroom




A Couch for the Win (Living Room take 2)


Well guess who finally got a couch in the living room?  That’s right, this girl!

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Update 4

If you remember back to last year, Garrett and I had a debate going whether or not we wanted needed a sofa in the living room.  I was 100% for. He was 100% against.  Well I don’t want to gloat, but…I won!

Of course bringing a sofa into the space means lots of rearranging and redecorating.  So it’ll be another week or so until I share photos of a finished living room.  Until then, you can imagine me, lazying on that sofa, kicking my feet up, and swelling with victory 😉



p.s. Happy Easter! I didn’t get around to decorating for the holiday much this year (read: at all), but if I did, I’d love a table top like this one.  Oh and we’d definitely be eating our ham off antique china!

p.p.s. Now that Spring has sprung, I’m planning to make this fresh potato salad A LOT!

p.p.p.s. This has got to be the most perfect farmhouse I’ve seen!

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The Second Bathroom: An (Almost) After


Well we still haven’t quite finished the basement bathroom.  But it’s about 99% there, so I’m throwing in the towel.  Some day we’ll get hooks up and hang a mirror.  Maybe even add a little art.  But until then, I’m calling it done enough.

The Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom Remodel

We originally envisioned this space as more of a utility bathroom with a large, deep sink and taller faucet.  A place to bathe a baby or throw your shoes after a rainy run.  But a series of events – mainly the budget and our intense desire to wrap this project up – left us with the materials at hand.  The mahogany door is original to the house (although refinished) and the vanity was a $100 Craigslist find that we painted and put a new top on.

Unfortunately this room gets like zero natural daylight, so the photos have an eerie glow.  But ignore that.  In person, it’s a warm and comfortable space.

The Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom VanityThe Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom Remodel 2

This space has heated floors, which is amazing.  But even without these, this room would be pretty popular.  Garrett and I both shower down here despite the fact that our room is upstairs next to the main bathroom.

The Grit and Polish - Basement Shower Renovation.jpg

The faux-wood tiles run seamlessly between the bathroom and laundry room.  I had Garrett lay these in a herringbone pattern, to tie in with the kitchen backsplash.  I’m pretty into these tiles – they are inexpensive and look great.

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom and Mudroom Herringbone Floors

It’s amazing how much work we’ve put into this little space.  When we bought the The Ravenna House, there was no bathroom in the basement.  There was actually nothing in the basement besides a sketchy black-painted room and an old non-functional furnace.  Here’s a pic after we finished demo but before we finished framing.  To orient you, the new window on the back wall is the window in the bathroom over the toilet.

Ravenna House Basement Bathroom Photo 1 1-31-14

After we finished framing, we plumbed and sheet-rocked and tiled and painted.  We even had to pour a partial slab back where we had to dig up the ground to install the new drain line.

photo-1-25281-2529blogger-image-17315300IMG_8229Basement BathroomBathroom shower tile 2 Masking for Basement Paint 3

And because I like to leave things on a good note, here’s one more pic of the done-deal:

The Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom Remodel 1

Vanity: Craigslist | Marble Countertop and Sink: GS Cabinet | Door and Hardware: Original to house | Floor Tiles: Home Depot | Shower Floor Tiles: Home Depot | Shower Wall Tiles: Home Depot | Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams White Duck | Trim Paint: BM Simply White | Mirror: 10+ years old, from Michaels | Sconces: Amazon

More on the bathroom inspiration here, renovation here and tiling the shower here.

What do you guys think?  Anything you’d do differently?


p.s. This apartment is ah-mazing!  Although I disagree with the author – 1000sf isn’t that small.

p.p.s. Two of my favorite people chat: Martha Stewart and Kai Ryssdal (of Marketplace).

p.p.p.s. I say yes to Greece.  Yes, yes yes!


Ravenna House Tour on Lemon Grove Blog

Happy Wednesday guys!  Just wanted to drop a quick line and let you know that the Ravenna House is featured on Lemon Grove Blog today.  Check it out here, and while you’re there take a look at Mary’s lovely old house!

Thanks for having us, Mary!

Ravenna House - Living Room Mantle.jpg




New Orleans!

Well guys we’re back from vacation (did I tell you we were going on an anniversary trip to the South?!) and making some good progress at the Ravenna House. We started laying pavers in the backyard and the windows are officially replaced (and look great).  But I’ll save all that for next week.  Today I want to show you a few pictures from the most magical city I’ve ever been to…New Orleans!

I completely fell in love with this place. The stone sidewalks, southern hospitality, sunny weather, and talk about old houses! It’s an amazing city and we’ll definitely be back.

The Grit and Polish - New Orleans Collage 10-14-14

We did a ton of site seeing and eating in the 5 days we were in New Orleans. A few of our favorite actives were a mule-driven carriage ride around the city (departing from Cafe Du Monde), walking around the French Quarter and Garden District, taking the St. Charles trolly, doing a swamp tour by boat, sitting on our hotel’s balcony, and seeing Oak Alley plantation. And eating at EAT. Crazy good food.  Plus Wilder slept through the entire dinner so Garrett and I actually got to enjoy a meal.  Got to love traveling with a 16-month old 😉

New Orleans, I miss you already! Until next time…


p.s. In case you’re planning a trip to New Orleans soon, check out these great guides from Love Taza (here and here) and Joy the Baker (here).

p.p.s. This house has so much going for it. Old, check. Beams and brick, check. A greenhouse off the bedroom, check. Used as a movie set, check. What more could a girl want?!

p.p.p.s. Halloween sweets are for adults too!

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702 Park Project

Sarah at 702 Park Project (one of my absolute favorite blogs) invited me to do a guest post today.  You should head on over and check it out!  So why is Sarah’s blog one of my favorites?  Yup, you guessed it, I’m obsessed with her old house!  It’s a 1902 American Foursquare, which they’ve been renovating from top to bottom, and it’s dreamy!

Thanks for having us, Sarah!

The Grit and Polish - In the Kitchen with Bubba



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Another Day at the Office


We don’t have a home office at the Ravenna House.  Frankly there’s just not room for that in 1400sf.  Especially since we actually use our guest bedroom for guests – and on a weekly basis.  So our “office” consists of a MacBook Air and wherever my tush finds a spot.

9 times out of 10, that’s at the kitchen bench:

Small Home Office 2

Our little non-office is cozy, but has everything we need.  In fact, our we-don’t-have-a-home-office situation really works for me.  This is why:

  1. I like to be wherever I can catch the most daylight.  Usually that’s in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s on my bed or on the front stoop.
  2. I like to work whenever and wherever I have a moment’s peace and free arms to get work done.  Isn’t that the cardinal rule of mama-hood?
  3. I don’t want to work in the long-forgotten armpit of the house.  You know what I’m talking about: the leftover nook at the end of the hall or on the dark side of the basement that homeowners ask, “what in the hell will we use this space for?” and some well-meaning friend invariably answers, “make it into a home office”.  Yeah, well I don’t want to work in that space.  I just don’t.  It’s not inspiring, encouraging, or anything else that makes you want to actually work.
  4. It’s really convenient to work right next to the dishwasher.  You clean up breakfast, load the dishwasher, and then sit down and work.  No need to walk in another room.  And say you get thirsty.  Well you just hop on up and pour yourself a glass of water or whatever you’ve got in the fridge.  Very convenient.  Or lazy.  Same diff.
  5. Wilder can play wherever he wants – the living room, the kitchen, his bedroom – and I can get a quick work session in.  Okay, so I might get interrupted every 3 seconds and do more playing then working, but at least I get to be with my babe and occasionally get something done.

Small Home Office with Baby 3

Obviously I like our set up.  But admittedly, I don’t work from home.  I have a job in an office with a desk and the whole shebang (three days a week, anyway).  If I did work from home, I image a little spot at the counter wouldn’t do.  It’s perfect for blogging, photos, surfing the web, and dealing with our houses, but probably not much more then that.

And let me confess that I would totally have a killer home office if I had the room for it and an inspiring place to put it.  Maybe, just maybe, someday I will…  But for now, my little house in Seattle does just fine.


p.s. Okay, so regarding to my future home office, I’d take any of these.

p.p.s.  And speaking of work.  Do you like your job?

p.p.p.s. You can totally call me a lame-o.  I promised you guys a followup on the basement paint (and masking) this week.  And nothing.  Well between the Chicago trip and getting ready for Wilder’s birthday party, I haven’t gotten any good photos taken.  But it will happen soon.  I promise.  So take it back – I’m not a lame-o!

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Renovation Thoughts for the Holidays

Hi there – so we haven’t gotten much done on the house this week since we were out of town spending time with family for the holidays.

Traveling to and from our sleepy hometown, we had lots of time in the car and I got to thinking…
My ideal New Years would be a night with my husband, dry-wallling the kitchen.  

Waste not, want not! I believe in reusing everything you can from an old house, beginning with the house, itself.

If you’re going to own one power tool, make it a cordless drill.  I don’t care if you’re a single gal in an apartment or an avid DIY-er, everyone can use a cordless drill!

And if you’re going to own three power tools, make it a cordless drill, a compound miter saw, and a table saw.

There’s something magical about old houses – maybe it’s the windows and moldings, maybe it’s the lives that have been lived in them.

Renovating is more fun with a beer in hand.  I’m not talking a half-rack people…just a beer.  It makes the job feel less like work and more like fun!

When in doubt, shim it.  And then caulk it. 

Always, always, always wear a mask.  Make it a P-100 for particles or an organic vapor respirator for fumes.  Lungs are forever!

And while we’re talking about safety, don’t forget the ear plugs and safety glasses.  And gloves, good shoes, and thick, long-sleeved clothes.  You seriously can’t be too careful!

Baby’s aren’t baby’s for long. Hold them! Snuggle them! Spoil them! And some day they will grow into wonderful hard-working renovators!

I’ve never regretted choosing a neutral paint color or a classic design.  

and one more…

When choosing a life partner, pick one that knows the back end from the front end of a sawsal. 
Happy New Year!
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Progress Update on The Ravenna House


Hey guys!  Today is a progress update post and I’m excited to show you what the house looks like.  But before I take you inside, I need to warn you about something.  See we’re still in that whole “it has to look worse before it looks better” phase and I don’t want you to be disappointed.

Even though the house may not look like much, it’s taken a lot of work to get here. Walls have been framed, retaining wall built, cabinets ordered, plumbing and electrical roughed in and just as soon as we pass our cover inspections, we’ll be on to drywall and then we’ll be cruising towards cabinets, tile, and paint!  Okay, okay…cruising might be an overstatement.  Inching would be more accurate.  Inching is all we can do with day jobs and a 6-month-old at home.  And as long as we’re talking about commitments, Bubba the dog wants to go to the park. Baby wants a trip to the zoo.  And moma wants to get a workout in (that baby weight isn’t gonna come off by itself).  So it may not be one of those “bring your toothbrush” houses, but it’s damn fine progress in my book!

These are all pictures from today on my iPhone.  Excuse the mess.  We aren’t living in this house yet (thank goodness) so tools and appliances are scattered about.

The shots above are panoramas of the “great room” including living, dining, and kitchen.

The shots above are of the upstairs hallway and bathroom.  Now, let’s journey downstairs…

The basement is roughly 600sf and will have a family room, bathroom, and office/guest room.  There is plenty of storage in the crawl space.  I’ll go into more detail in these rooms as we get closer to a final product.  So that concludes this grand tour.  You’ve seen the whole house…all 1400sf!

So this is what we’ve accomplished over the past 2 1/2 months in list format:

  • Flooring, kitchen, and basement demo
  • Selective bathroom demo
  • Cabinets detailed and purchased
  • Plumbing rough in
  • Electrical rough in
  • 5 of 10 windows “un-stuck” and operable (more on this later)
  • All galvanized pipe plumbing demo’d (may I take a moment to acknowledge how gross the inside of 87-year-old pipes are? I CANNOT believe anyone drank out of these! Especially myself! I’m gagging over here!)
  • CMU block retaining wall built
  • Crawlspace concrete pad poured (all told we’ve poured 3 tons of concrete in the basement!)
  • New footings for basement posts
  • Appliances purchased
  • Basement walls framed (50% complete)

Here’s what is coming up in the next couple of months:

  • Complete bathroom demo
  • Pick out paint (there’s a sale at Sherwin Williams until 12/31/13)
  • Finish drywall in kitchen and hallway
  • Order upstairs bathroom materials: tile and wainscott
  • Order basement bathroom materials: everything
  • Mud and tape drywall in kitchen and hallway
  • Kitchen cabinet install
  • Order kitchen countertop and schedule install
  • Install Ikea farmhouse sink as an undermount
  • Tile backsplash
  • Install lighting
  • Design the new heating system (we’re still tossing around a few options: hydronic radiators, gas stove insert, and a furnace)
  • New basement post and beam where it was previously removed (seriously…who does this?!)

Yes…you noticed it too.  That’s a pretty long list of things to do!  Well we’ll continue inching along…in the mean time, I’d love to hear about your renovations!

Next up: Guess you’ll just have to tune in next week and see!


p.s. Merry Christmas!  We’re headed over to central Washington to celebrate the holiday with Garrett’s family.  It’s the baby’s first Christmas so I’m looking forward to it even more this year 🙂

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