Before + After – Lil’ Spot Renovations The Bathroom

Hi hi hi. So yesterday I shared all of the dingy ‘BEFORE’ pics of our pink and black tile bathroom. Today it’s time to get to the goods. Real quick – here’s what the bathroom looked like when we bought the house:

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

The space was super cramped, poorly lit, without ventilation and, other than the medicine cabinet, completely without storage. The one thing that the room had going for it was a nice, big American Standard cast iron bathtub in great condition. (By the way – that nice vignette of a hand mirror, roll of toilet paper and bottle of Suave shampoo came with the house. Bonus!)

Here’s what our Master/Guest/Family/Only Bathroom looks like today:

raised by design - bathroom renovation after

We went with a relaxed, neutral palette of bright white walls and slate blue/gray floors. I like that it skews a little masculine but is still elegant and airy. We installed and painted bead board along the ‘dry’ wall of the bathroom and classic white subway tile along the ‘wet’ wall – the tile is wrapped around the tub/shower surround and behind the new sink.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

We solved the layout and storage issues by reclaiming some square footage from the second bedroom (now our Master) that was being used as an extra closet. We robbed Peter to pay Paul, you could say. It hurts to get rid of closet space in a small house, but Paul the bathroom really needed the space, so we didn’t lose sleep over it. Plus, we didn’t take all of the storage of the other room – the remaining space was used for custom built-in shelves which now function as my vanity and shoe storage.

The added square footage allowed for a clear path and more spacious layout without any crowding. Hoo-ray! The nook we created also accommodated a full size vanity with plenty of storage. The vanity is actually a vintage sideboard that I spray painted and chopped up to accommodate a sink and plumbing. There are loads of DIY tutorials out there for this move and in our case, it was the best solution for maximizing counter space and storage and it’s much easier on the budget than a brand new vanity. Plus, look at that sexy hardware!

raised by design - bathroom renovation - vanity redo

raised by design - bathroom renovation

We opted for a wall mounted faucet and vessel sink to make converting the vanity easier. I found a giant vintage mirror that was perfectly sized for our space and paired it with industrial cage pendants.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

We keep our everyday toiletries corralled on a tray to cut down on clutter (my all-time favorite styling tip). When guests come and we feel fancy, we stash our toothbrushes away and just leave out the hand soap, a lightly scented candle (like one of these) and some pretty hand towels.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - soap tray

Above the litany of light switches and outlets we added, I hung this sweet trio of miniature house collages in vintage gold frames that my Mom made for me.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - house collages

I like the way the antique gold finish is repeated in the mirror frame and original brass door knob.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - gold frames

For a long time, the bright, bare walls on the opposite side of the bathroom were too pretty to mess with. Something happens when you take the trouble to paint a room yourself: you have nightmares about patching a poorly place nail hole so you chicken out on hanging anything at all.

Last winter I finally got over it and hung a gallery wall of vintage class photos I’ve collected and charcoal nudes drawn by James’ late grandmother. She was such a glamorous woman and I love the ultra feminine touch that her drawings lend to the otherwise masculine space.

raised be design - bathroom renovation - framed art - gallery wall

We added a ledge to help transition between the bead board and dry wall – a trick we borrowed from my parents’ bathroom. The ledge is low profile, but creates a spot to keep small things like a clock or eyeglasses.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

My collection of vintage black and white class photos includes a photo of my 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C. I remember thinking it was just silly that my Mom wanted to order the framed photo (“Whaddya want that for?”), but I’m so thankful for the time capsule and it’s one of my favorite pieces of art. Gosh, she’s always right. We hung it right next to the commode and when we have parties the conversation inevitably comes around to the number of flannels, Nirvana t-shirts and Air Jordans in the pic. It was 1995…

raised by design - bathroom renovation - DC class trip photo

It’s also fun to let guests play ‘Where’s Waldo’ to find me. Here, I solved it for you… Also in this closeup are my kindergarten bestie, my first kiss, the friend I got in the most trouble with and the kid who moved into my house when we move to New York a couple years later (whose sister is now a cast member on SNL!).

raised by design - bathroom renovation - dc class photo

While we’re talking about what’s near the toilet, I have to show you the TP holder we installed, which is probably the smartest choice I’ve made in life besides going to college and marrying James. It’s the best and deserves a chance to shine. The price was ridiculous but it’s the only acceptable design for changing the roll in my book – one of my all-time least favorite things to do (besides replacing the trash liner). Once you go $100 toilet paper roll holder, you never go back. I’m bringing it with me to the next house.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - tp holder

Lastly, our beautiful porcelain throne. When my mother-in-law heard that we planned on just keeping the existing (60 year old) John, which was in fine shape as far as my back woods self was concerned, she insisted it was a much better idea to get a new one. We hemmed and hawed over adding the expense to our climbing budget, but in a ‘you’ll thank me later’ moment she put her foot down and offered to buy a new one for us. Moms…they’re always right! I LOVE this toilet and I now appreciate that Johns have a life span and when it’s up…it’s just up. She’s a beaut and uses less water so everyone’s happy. (I wish I’d moved our trash can or ironed my stubborn shower curtain for this shot. Oh well…real life.)

raised by design - bathroom renovation

The vignette behind the toilet changes with my mood. These days I have a porcelain and pewter tray, a vase of flowers from our backyard and one of my Great Aunt Virginia’s Herend figurines. Fancy! I’m feelin’ it.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

raised by design - bathroom renovation

And finally, I sewed a small cafe curtain from some cheap-o IKEA fabric and lined the windows with a stick-on film that gives the same opaque effect as frosted glass. Privacy + natural light = muy importante.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

So, there you have it. 4 years later I’m still happy with everything in the space and I don’t miss the pink and black tile one bit, it turns out.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

Here’s a source list for our project. Some of the items are discontinued because we completed this renovation 4 years ago, but I tried to list an alternate in those cases. Enjoy your project and love your bathroom, I say!

  • Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore Cloud Nine
  • White Subway Tile – Home Depot
  • Floor Tile – Home Depot
  • Vanity – John Street Antiques, Stamford, CT
  • Mirror – John Street Antiques, Stamford, CT
  • Pendants – Schoolhouse Electric
  • Sink – + don’t forget the drain
  • Wall-mounted Faucet – Kohler (we got a similar faucet with a right angle spout)
  • Hand Towel Holder – IKEA
  • Towel Bar – IKEA (I’m laughing because I just realized we installed it upside down…welp, still works!)
  • Tissue Holder – Kohler
  • Shower Head and Trim – Kohler
  • Soap Dispenser – CB2
  • House Candle Holder – CB2
  • Toothbrush Cup – a gift from friends, you can find here
  • Curtain Fabric – IKEA
  • Toilet – TOTO
  • Laundry Hamper – HomeGoods, here’s a cute alternative though
  • Bath Towels – West Elm (we didn’t monogram ours with a bossy red “RELAX” as pictured)
  • Trash Can – Simple Human
  • Frames for Nudes – IKEA
  • Pewter Tray – Arte Italica (a wedding gift that we use all over the house)
  • Black and White Vintage Class Photos – collected, easily found at vintage shops or on Etsy
  • Window Film – we used something like this

Loveyoubye! Mags


Before + After – Lil’ Spot Renovations The Bathroom

When we submitted an offer on our house in 2009 we knew we would be doing a lot of work to the place. I gave you a quick little recap of our house’s story in this post, months back. But what I didn’t get into was the fact that our little 1950’s Aladdin Kit abode hadn’t been updated one bit since it was first born, aside from painting over wallpaper several times and replacing the windows. Seriously – there weren’t even grounded outlets in the joint.

Of course there was something so appealing about this little house that had been so meticulously cared for in its original state – good bones and a clean slate. We were excited to transform it into a bright, airy, modern cottage and bring it up to snuff for present day living.

Grown up people with grown up bank accounts usually gut renovate the whole house before they move in so there are no traces of previous life and their busy lives are virtually uninterrupted. But we were young, first-time home buyers with young baby savings accounts. Which meant we were going to have to do things little by little and with our own two hands on nights and weekends. Our renovations have unfolded over the last 4 years and we’re still working on things like our basement and our exterior.

It’s going to take lots of blog posts to share everything we’ve done in this piece. So get ready!

raised by design - our house

A little house lookin’ for love in all kinds of places.



Lil’ Spot has just one bathroom. It’s really tough times to live in a house without a toilet in commission so we decided to tackle the bathroom as our first project – before we moved in. At the time, we’d been renting a cute little place in town, but to save cheese for our new home we decided not to renew our lease and we moved home with our parents. Separately. Oh, the ways you can test a relationship.

Here’s the side by side of our bathroom Before + After from the main living space of the house.

raised by design - before + after bathroom

We decided to nix the pink and black tile for a more gender-neutral slate blue-gray and white palette. Looking back now 5 years later, a pink bathroom would have been a fun design challenge and there are lots of ways to make the pink tiles made famous by Mamie Eisenhower work with today’s interiors. I’d love to see a modern riff on this hue paired with metallics, geometric shapes and the current southwestern desert trends. Here are some examples of bathrooms that are working pink well:

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Christina Simon's bathroom via Apartment Therapy

Christina Simon’s bathroom via Apartment Therapy

Although there is plenty to love about pink and black tile, we knew right away we wouldn’t be keeping it. For starters, with only one bathroom in the whole dang house we knew that we really had to make it count. This bath would function as our Master Bath, our Guest Bath and someday, our shared bath with kids. So not only did we need to be in love with the look and feel, but the design had to be versatile and super functional.

Secondly, after years of rentals in all sorts of colors, qualities and conditions, I couldn’t wait to have the freedom to design a beautifully appointed, sparkly white, all-my-taste-and-nobody-else’s bathroom. Finally. (I briefly consulted James, of course, who graciously agreed with everything I had in mind).

And last, the layout was heinously cramped and the storage options were nil. So change was in order.

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

It was hard to say goodbye to the basket weave tile, but once we added square footage to the room, keeping it wasn’t an option.

Note the proximity of the sink to the toilet and the tub. Squishy! In this tight little narrow space, the man who built this house had to stand at an angle to use the toilet for 60 years, rest his soul. Also, if you bent over the sink to wash your face your bum would bump into the shower curtain. We knew we could do better.

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

I sold the vintage medicine cabinet and stashed the light fixture for another use.

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

I’m pretty tall, so this low shower head was a hazard to my dome piece.

We put our heads together, along with my Dad and James’ Uncle who are both experienced contractors, and came up with a design that we were happy with…which changed soon after we got started working…then got halted due to needing a proper building permit. Before we knew it we had spent 4 months living in separate homes and commuting to our new house after work to finish the tiniest room in the house. Thankfully, we had a lot of help from our families and a major pot of gold waiting for us…move-in day! Tomorrow I’ll share more details about our plans and the ‘AFTER’ photos of our total douching of the pink tile bathroom.

Loveyoubye! Maggie




Friday Links

raised by design friday links

Wrapping up another week here – I’ve been working on a design for a Hudson River living room and hoping to share some of the details next week. I’ve also been photographing the house to share some of our renovation updates with you (finally). Roxy has been photobombing wherever possible.


  • Let’s just start with this ad which I just can’t get enough of. I think I’ve watched it 50 times already.
  • My Grammy lived in Carmel, CA when I was little and we would always visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and buy sweatshirts with otters on them, so these guys are important to me.
  • Loving this roundup at Remodelista which includes our good friend Georgia Tribuiani’s business And So It Goes – she and her partner have beautifully remixed classic hand-netted bags with bright colors and leather wrapped handles.
  • I always wonder – if I painted my floors white, would I be more drawn to decorating with lots of bright color?
  • There are some really good things happening in this Kinderhook farmhouse tour.

Happy Weekend. Loveyoubye! Maggie


8 Ways to Beat the ‘Work Bleghs’

raised by design - say no to ugh desktop wallpaper

Today I need to blog about blogging. I’m just slugging out of my first big work funk as a blogger/designer. Did you miss me?

The resounding words of wisdom out there on how to deal go something like this: do NOT let your readers catch wind of what’s going on with you or they will hate you and stop reading your blog. Well pish posh to that shit. Fear mongering. This is my space to be the real real. I know nobody wants to read a blog that’s a giant miz-fest, but you guys are all professionals and you get it. Slumps happen. They happen to Derek Jeter and they happen to me. (And you thought I didn’t have anything in common with Derek Jeter.) They happen to everyone! Even when you love your work.

Here are my 8 best ways to get out of a big nasty case of the ‘Work Bleghs':

  1. Get up, go outside and take a walk. I don’t care if you work on the 50th floor and your boss just asked you to do something super important. If you’re feeling like poop fake an urgent bathroom break and take a walk around the block. Fresh air = fresh head.
  2. Put on some good tunes. I highly recommend vintage Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson or whatever gets you singing along and busting into a good head bop.
  3. Make something. Anything. That recipe you’ve been meaning to try? Sure. The paper airplane you used to make when you were a kid? Awesome. That DIY project you saw on Pinterest (or RBD!)? Wonderful. Just get your hands working on something and your mind challenged with something you enjoy.
  4. Call a friend. Not the ‘misery loves company’ one, the one that makes you laugh so hard you pee a little. The one that reminds you why everything is awesome.
  5. Treat yourself to something. You’re having a tough day so maybe your kale salad can wait. Go get a big fat meatball parm instead. Or a pedicure if you’re a little more ladylike and you don’t eat your problems like me.
  6. Make a list. Get it all out! Sometimes it helps to sit down with a pen and paper and write down all the tasks on your plate that are making you feel scattered and uninspired. Usually on paper they look smaller and you can boss them around a little better.
  7. Light a candle. Not in prayer (unless you want to pray for yourself, which could work), but to get things smelling good. This one is only for people who work from home. If you’re in an office, find the insufferable girl with a new boyfriend who just had a birthday and go smell her roses. My point being…ever heard of aroma therapy? Good smells trigger endorphins and make you feel rejuvenated.
  8. Take a break. Seriously. Shut. It. Down. Take a personal day and ignore your computer and all electronic means of working for a day. Take a nap. Watch that movie you missed in theaters because nobody would go with you. Go swimming. Go to the zoo. Or a museum. Sit in the park with a real live book. Do something that gets you back to you.

Do you feel better? Me too. Join the fight and Say No To Ugh.

Loveyoubye, Maggie




Closing Time: 20% Off at The Working Proof

One of my favorite sources for affordable art, The Working Proof, is unfortunately closing their doors this week. Friends often ask me where they can find cool art at human prices and The Working Proof was always at the top of my list of recommendations. This curated online gallery has operated for the last 5 years as a laymen’s portal to distinguished artists at reasonable price points. But founders Anna Corpron and Sean Auyeung took things a step further and linked art and charity together in one purchase: 15% of your awesome art purchase goes to a charity selected by the artist. Shopping without guilt…for awesome art…that doesn’t leave you in the poor house…win-win-win…win. I’m so sad to see it go and hope that someone else will pick up where their work left off.

Now through this Thursday, July 10th, at midnight, you can take an additional 20% off with the coupon code FAREWELL20. Scoop up some art before it’s gone and help forests, puppies, kiddos and more. 

The Working Proof - Excelsior by Sean Auyeung

Excelsior (re-release) by Sean Auyeung, via The Working Proof


Mountains by Karina Eibatova, via The Working Proof


Cloud 2 by Kyu Hwang, via The Working Proof


Crow Hat by Madame Lolina, via The Working Proof

Get. Art. Loveyoubye, Mags

Friday Links

raised by design - friday links - river rocks

Yesterday I saved a life. In a heroic display of chicken-shit bravery, I called James home at lunchtime to help me rescue a baby possum that had fallen down our basement stairwell in the back of our house. It was separated from its mother by an 8 foot drop and was much too tiny to climb out using the stairs. And without going into detail about the way we built our deck – there was pretty much no way for the Mom to rescue the little guy or for him to get back to the den. So my choices were to (a) heartlessly let Mother Nature do her thing and deal with a tiny dead possum and months of bad dreams or (b) figure out how to Ranger Rick that sucker.

I went to the Google machine (after a call to my Mom, who has lots of experience with nature and not being a mamsy-pamsy) and found a site that listed Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilition in my area. To my surprise, there are about 100 folks who are licensed rescuers in our area (with hilarious distinctions like “will take turtles” – are turtles the problem child of backyard wildlife?). I found a nice lady who advised me to scoop the guy up with a shovel and put it in a shoebox with one of the following snacks that possums prefer: applesauce, cottage cheese, bananas or scrambled egg. Scrambled. Egg. Hell no. She assured me that possums don’t carry disease and that neither the baby nor the mommy were going to hurt me. Ok, ok.

It took two adults with college degrees to wrangle the little drunksy into the shovel/shoebox scenario and get it in position for the handoff. In my frenzy to complete the mission, I didn’t take any pics. Blogger fail. Turns out, he was super cute too. Thankfully, lots of other folks agree and have taken pics of baby possums, including blogger Kaylah of the Dainty Squid (her shots below). I propped the box next to the opening under our deck and watched through the boards as he wobbled over to Mama with his scraped nose and the pair were blissfully reunited. So, I’m still up 5 possums in my yard. Is that a victory, or…?

photo by The Dainty Squid

photo by The Dainty Squid

photo by The Dainty Squid

photo by The Dainty Squid

photo by The Dainty Squid

photo by The Dainty Squid

Anyway, without further rambling – here are this week’s links:

Loveyoubye! Mags

Snacks for Summer: Pineapple Salsa and White Bean Dip Recipe

When summer starts to get in full swing, life gets pretty schweaty and the last thing you want to do is turn on a burner in your kitchen. That’s why summer is the best time of year to get crazy with dips, spreads, salsas and relishes. Cold hard flavor bringin’ the heat.

Here are two favs on steady rotation for parties, BBQ’s or just dinnertime on the deck.

raised by design - pineapple salsa with blue corn chips recipe

Pineapple Salsa with Blue Corn Chips

In a medium bowl, toss together the following ingredients:

  • ½ pineapple, diced
  • ½ white onion, minced
  • 1 jalepeño pepper, minced (for a mild salsa, remove the seeds and ribs and use ½ pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or to taste)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Serve with blue corn chips. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


raised by design - white bean dip recipe

Garlicky Herbed White Bean Dip with Flatbreads

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process until smooth:

  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans (I use cannellini but you can use any white bean)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs (I used dill, mint and parsley for a mediterranean flavor)**

Serve drizzled with olive oil alongside store-bought flatbreads, pita triangles, crackers or crudite.

*You can swap out the cayenne pepper with other spices to change up the flavor. Try cumin for a dip closer to hummus or paprika for a smoky taste.

**Likewise, you can use other combinations of fresh herbs for a variation on the flavor. Rosemary is delicious with the lemon juice and rustic bread. Or try basil and red pepper flakes for an Italian spin.


¡Bona Salut! Loveyoubye, Mags