Wednesday, June 23, 2021

One Room Challenge: Vanity Project

Round 8 of The One Room Challenge!
(Need to catch up? Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6)
Pssst: Wondering if you missed Week 7? Nope! We just skipped right over that. June was jammed packed full of celebrations over here at Casa de Bowden, so our home improvement project(s) took a slight pause in favor of a different/sweeter version of DIY: cakes.

So this is it! Today is the BIG REVEAL of the ONE ROOM CHALLENGE.

And because I am fully convinced that the secret to life is managing expectations...allow me to suggest that you lower yours. That's right, folks....prepare to be underwhelmed.

Ta da!

OK- it's not that it's a bad end result...actually it's quite lovely in my opinion. But I've already shared so much of the room that this last piece- a painted vanity- doesn't feel quite as dramatic as it could. It seems a little "been there, seen that". BUT- Dustin did work really hard on the vanity, and it turned out beautiful, so enough talking it down, let's check it out!

Because of the lighting, it's a little tough to get a true color representation in photos, but the paint is Behr Dark Everglade (semi-gloss finish)-a deep kelly green with a bit bluey-teal. It coordinates beautifully with the green in the shower curtain, and is dark enough to feel nice and rich but with enough saturation to still feel fun. I'm always nervous about paint color selection but this one feels really right in this space, so I'm thrilled. There are a couple tiny areas that still need to be touched up, but after skipping last week, I wanted to share something this week, so I forced Dustin to get everything photo-ready, if not picture perfect. 

And quick reminder- the cabinets before were plain oak, no hardware:

So this change is actually pretty dramatic, even for being pretty simple upgrades.
The new hardware is from Hobby Lobby- clear lucite with metal "collars". I decided I wanted the metal to be silver, to coordinate with the faucet (which I don't hate enough to bother replacing) so we spray painted those "chrome" to match. I really love them- they're elegant without being too fussy.


And that'! 

You may have noticed that there's one pretty major change we didn't make to this space: the floor. Honestly...we just didn't get to it. But I'm almost glad we didn't, because now I'm rethinking our tile choice a bit. We had planned on doing a medium grey peel and stick vinyl (groutable, to make it look more like tile), but now I'm not sure. I'm worried it will all feel a little dark when paired the vanity color, and I think it could blend too much with the grey carpet in the adjacent bedrooms. I don't quite have an alternate in mind- so I think we'll take this pause point as an opportunity to live with things as-is for a bit and figure out something we'll love rather than just rushing through with something just ok. (who knows...I might still go with the tile we planned. But there's no harm in taking our time to be sure.) I'm toying around with the idea of terrazzo- to bring some more color and pattern. This vinyl paper option is super intriguing! But for now we'll just keep our old grey bathmats in place while we mull it over.

So...there you have it. The 7 week saga of a peachy-clean little bathroom. (HOW did I make it this far into the documentation process without using that pun?!) Overall- I give this whole project a 7/10. There are pieces I love...actually I kinda love all of the pieces individually...but for some reason it seems like it's missing something to pull it all together and make it sing. I don't know if it's because the floor isn't done, or if I'm still struggling with the various shades of white/cream (the floor really isn't helping that cause) but it just doesn't quite feel totally done here. But just because the challenge is technically over, doesn't mean my design process has to be. I think I'll keep my eyes peeled (oooh- bonus fruit pun!) for a new mirror (something with a natural element- like wood or rattan could really warm up the space) and keep exploring options for the floor. But for now, I'm pleased with where we are. It's a real peach of a space.

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

One Room Challenge: (Shower) Stalling

Round 6 of The One Room Challenge!
(Need to catch up? Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5)

Remember when I said I'd probably have to stall this week? Well...could I try to work a "shower stall" pun in here to distract from the lack of progress? Surrrrrrrre.

We're still painting the vanity (the "royal" we, aka Dustin), and for no other reason than blind optimism, I fully believe it will be finished next week. Yes. I'm just going to manifest that. (It's easier, if less reliable, than you know...actually helping paint). 

So in the meantime: let's talk showers.

Oooooh. Ahhhh.

Is it pretty? No. Is it functional? EXTREMELY. 

It's a super standard set up, and while I don't love the look of the textured plexiglass doors, and all that chrome, I DO love the solid, grout-free surface inside. It's so low-maintenance; I never worry about the kids messing it up, or needing to clean it obsessively. It's just works. It's a shower only- no tub- which works great for the big girls, who at (alllllmost) 8 and 9 are just now starting to become independent enough to shower on their own (though they all still love sibling party bath in our giant corner Jacuzzi).

So when we started to plan this bathroom, I knew we wouldn't be touching this shower. It doesn't seem smart to rip out something so functional just to replace it with things that require more care and upkeep. Plus, any fancy-shmancy tile and glass enclosure we'd want to do would be more expensive than a kids' bathroom really deserves. I was totally prepared to just live with the look of it, until I saw a bathroom reno by @thosebyrnesgirls. She updated her bathroom on a similar budget (meaning as close to $0 as possible) and just put a shower curtain in front of the doors to cover them up. 

Um, what? Why did I never think about that? 

For some reason I had it in my head that if you had doors you had doors. It didn't occur to me that I could just put a curtain in FRONT of them. Keep the functionality, but add an aesthetic layer!

I had also been thinking about doing wallpaper in this space. I thought it would bring in some color and pattern, and give the room personality. But, it was going to be pretty time intensive and expensive. The curtain brings in all the brightness and the fun, for a fraction of the price, plus it's temporary, so if we want to swap it, we can easily change the look without having to embark on another project.

We just popped up a tension rod (bonus- we already owned it but didn't have a need for it in this house) and we were good to go. (you can actually see it in the "before" pics because I was experimenting to make sure it was going to work). I had an old white shower curtain that I layered behind the peaches to give it a bit more fullness and make it more opaque. When it's closed you'd never know what's behind it, and it easily scoots out of the way for access to the shower. (In case you didn't know how shower curtains work. Why do I feel the need to explain in such excruciating detail? Do I get paid by the word? Do I get paid at all?!)

So there you have it. An epic-ly drawn out story about a $30 bathroom upgrade. Now let's just give you the 87 pictures you likely scrolled directly down to anyway.....

And now- for a little vignette that I swear not to belabor with my long-winded yammering:

This wall was blank, and we desperately needed someplace to hang towels. I feel passionate about hooks vs. a towel bar (especially in kids' rooms...they cannot seem to hang things up no matter what, but the hooks at least make it semi-possible for them to clean up after themselves, if still very unlikely). These little wood + white hooks were the perfect natural accent, and provide more than enough spots for me to hang the multitude of towels it apparently requires to dry tiny, lazy bodies.


The art piece is one of my very favorite things in the room. It's a photograph, but is SO realistic. It just makes me happy every time I see it.

So.....with all that said, maybe I should check on Dustin and the vanity. Surely after all that rambling, he could be done by now?

See you next week!

Shower Curtain
Shower Curtain Hooks
Towel Hooks
Flower Art  
Flamingo towels- old, but similar here

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Monday, June 7, 2021

Twin Peaks

It seems hard to believe that I made my last quilt over a year ago...and yet, the blog archives don't lie. I do tend to pursue my hobby in seasons though. Sometimes literally matching activities to the weather (feels good to hunker down with a craft in the winter), but more often, I just get totally obsessed with something for a while, and then utterly neglect it for months (or forever) thereafter. So I suppose it's not shocking that I went through a dry quilting spell after last Spring's big boom. 

I am what I'm unofficially dubbing an "occasion" quilter- calling myself out of semi (and accidental) retirement when there's something special to make. And WHAT, I ask you, is more special than a dear friend having TWIN BABIES?! Well, pretty much nothing. That's what. When our friends shared that they were expecting a boy and a girl this Summer, I knew I wanted to make something just the special-ist for these two impending bundles of joy. If I had been as smart as I am thoughtful (jokkkkke)- I would have started them a long time ago...but as per always, my ambition out paces my capacity, so that's how I found myself with exactly 10 days to work with from pattern purchase to baby shower unwrapping. It was...aggressive. But there's just about nothing I adore than more creating something for someone I love, so this was a double dose of YES for me. 

But before we dive into the behind-the-seams details, let's just bask in the sunshine-y reveal for a moment:

Aren't they the sweetest?! (The quilts and the nearly invisible but audibly whiny quilt models).

"My arms are tired! It's hottttt...."
"Hold them up higher and just keep running, ladies, I have a VISION!"

The quilts fraternal twins- just like the future recipients. I wanted to do two of the same pattern with some subtle differences to make it fun. The pattern is designed to be a bit improv-based, so it made it easy and fun to play around with the piecing and proportions to give them both their own style.

So that's the cliff's notes (crib sheet?) version of these babies...but for those of you hungry for the play by play, here's the full story:

  • Quilt Pattern: NightSky Quilt by SkyClad Quilts. I had it saved on my IG favs forever, and thought this would be a fun pattern to try for these babies. (it helps that it's really only sized for crib quilts...but I'm sure it could be adjusted if you wanted to make it happen for a larger size). I knew almost nothing about the nursery decor etc. but I knew the mom wasn't overly traditional or tied to typical gender colors etc, so I thought something inspired by nature (if it's not obvious, the pattern is supposed to represent a sunset over the mountains) with bright colors would be perfect. The official version includes a moon and some embroidered stars which are lovely- but seemed a bit out of my skillset (I've never done embroidery or applique) and a stretch for my timeline. Plus- not to cop-out here, but I honestly looked at my quilts in the end stages and preferred a slightly more abstract version, so I nixed the extra details. Practicality and aesthetic win.
  • Fabric: All solids- mostly JoAnn's basics with a Kona Cotton thrown in there to be fancy. This is my first quilt made with all solids, so that was a fun little challenge. Even though in a way it's much easier than print mixing, I still wanted to nail the color range, so I pulled out allllllll the bolts to find my favs. A scant hour later, we had the winners. (I'm not exaggerating or complaining about spending the better part of an afternoon agonizing over nearly identical swatch shades, because choosing fabric might be my favorite stage of quilting. Although...I kind of say that about every stage. Except the fighting-with-my-machine's-tension stage. THAT- to use a parenting parallel- is like the "toddlerhood" of quilting, i.e. a necessary evil on your way to much more enjoyable times.)

lovvvvve a good ombre.
  • Backing design: Kept this sooooo simple, by choosing to go with a single fabric on the back. (I tend to get a little wild with my quilts sometimes, making the back just as intricate as the front). I had some really adorable options for the back, but eventually landed on two colorways (pink and blue, naturally) ofTriangles Keepsake Calico Cotton Fabric. I love how they pulled out different colors from the front, made the quilts unique from each other and mimicked the angles on the front. The print was busy enough to not need any other piecing detail, and it hid my quilting stitches well. So basically...exactly what I needed.


  • Quilting design: This was another first for me- varying the quilting pattern within each fabric piece. Normally I just do some version of straight lines throughout the quilt- either at a set distance or a varying widths (without a longarm I can't get too fancy). But for this one I wanted to try mimicking the shape/direction of each shape, so I did horizonal lines for the sky, diagonal lines matching the angles of the "mountains" and a simple sunburst design in the middle. I graduated the straight lines spacing from wide to narrow depending on the size/placement of the piece, to give a sense of depth. The quilting part might be the hardest part for me (it's definitely the most time consuming) but there is nothing better than seeing a project transform from pile of fabric to "real" quilt as it gets those puffy, crinkly shapes. 

  • Timeline: As I mentioned, I set myself up with a bit of a hard deadline on this one. I bought the fabric on Tuesday May 25, and had to have them wrapped up in the car by noon on Friday June 4. I kept track of my time, just because I think it's interesting to know what really goes into making a quilt (it always feels like a lot. And guess what! It is!) All told, I estimate I spent about 20 hours on these. Some parts are more efficient when you're doing two of the same thing (I was always faster on the second one because I had my process figured out better) but some parts just take what they take. I split the work up over 6 days, which translates to around 3 hours per day (or more accurate: 3 hours per late night). Not a sustainable hobby for the long term (I think with those kind of hours it's really more of a part time job) but fun to immerse myself in it for a short burst.
  • Media of choice while I worked: Real Housewives (NYC and Beverly Hills). I accept no judgement on this. These quilts will be infused with the wisdom and class of generations of women, poured in through my ear bud osmosis. (I also made it thorugh the full season of The Queen's Gambit, so my brain iddn't totally atrophy).


  • Final thoughts: I don't know if it's arrogant to be this proud of something I made...but, dang I sure am proud. I think quilts are a little bit like kids in that way- it's not really about all the awesome stuff I did to make them turn out's more of a gratefulness and appreciation for beauty and learning (ok- with a little dash of acknowledgement for all the awesome stuff I did to make them turn out well). I don't know if I adore the process or the end result more...but I do know I want to start on another quilt pretty much immediately, so if any of my friends want to have a baby (or two), call me!


All Sources/Details:

Pattern: NightSky Quilt
Finshed size: Roughly 44" x 48
Total Time spent: 20 hours (for both)
Fabric: JoAnn's & Kona Cotton solids, Triangles Keepsake Calico Cotton Fabric
Custom name tags: Mission Market Co. (I used my last two, so it's time to reorder!)
Binding: Cluck Cluck Sew machine binding tutorial, using two 3yd packs of double fold bias tape.
Batting: Warm Company Warm & White Cotton Batting, pre-cut crib size: 45"x60".


P.S. See more quilty goodness: here on the blog, or on IG via #bowdenismsews

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

One Room Challenge: Seeing Green

It's time for Round 5 of The One Room Challenge! 
(Catch up here: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4)

Week 5?! That means we're over halfway through this challenge! But alas...I'm not sure we're halfway through the work. Honestly, we're more or less in the same place we've been since the jump- the details are all done and ready to be shared, while the two major projects remain. 

But at least this week I do have a true progress update- the vanity is in the works! 

When it comes to the main fixtures in this bathroom, we're working with what we've got, so the existing vanity will stay- it's just getting a fresh coat of paint. We chose a deep green: Behr Dark Everglade, in a semi-gloss finish. It's a pretty straightforward project, it's really just a matter of finding the time to make it happen. But now that school's out for the Summer, Dustin and I get to remove our "teacher" hats, so we're feeling absolutely FLUSH with free time (I kid. We somehow still have just as much to do as ever...time is slippery that way). The good news is- this challenge is doing exactly what it was designed to do, providing some motivation and accountability to keep things moving. And I've been doing exactly what I was designed to do: nagging Dustin to make (more of) my dreams happen. So he has been escaping to the basement/"workshop" now and then over the last few weeks to appease my arbitrary timeline anxiety.

I'm always nervous about choosing a paint color. I'm incredibly picky about color, and super sensitive to undertones etc. I've pretty much never loved something on the first try, so at this point I've just come to terms with it. I figure with something like this, we can always consider the first round a primer, and try something different on top. 

But fortunately- I'm really loving how this is turning out. It's a bit hard to tell because it's still in the beginning stages (ignore the streaks and uneven coverage) but I think it's going to look really rich and pretty when it's done.

But just for a moment- let's keep it real, by showing you the current view. Based on the number of toothbrushes strewn about at any given time, you'd assume we were running a sorority house, but nope...this is just the trail left behind by two elementary school girls.

I can't very well end on that note, so let me give you a little sneak peek of what's to come....(A future blog post I will try very hard not to title: Stop! Handle Time.)

Any other challenge participants moving at a snail's pace?
Any other decorators chronically doubt their color choices?
Any other moms feel completely overrun by bathroom clutter? 

I see you. I feel you. I salute you. 

Until next week, DIY warriors!

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Thursday, May 27, 2021

One Room Challenge: Let's Take a Shelfie

 Round 4 of The One Room Challenge! comin' atcha! 

 (Need to catch up? Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3)

This week is a "picture is worth a thousand words" kind of post (aka: I'm tired, so you're spared my typical rambling). Keeping our focus tight, and sharing a little shelfie!

The girls' bathroom is pretty small, so I didn't have a ton of wall space I need to solve for...but I wanted to do something more interesting than a typical mass produced art piece. And when I stumbled upon this quirky shelf in the Target kid's section, I knew I had found my perfect pear. (I'm never too tired for a pun).

The only question: What to put on it? Shockingly- the girls don't actually need much storage in their bathroom...yet. The vanity has a cabinet and 3 drawers, plus they have a (hideous but functional) medicine cabinet) so for now it holds all their stuff (toothpaste, hair ties, a truly insane collection of temporary tattoos) without issue, so the shelf is purely decorative. I was honestly a little stumped...this room get no natural light, so (real) plants are out. And I didn't want anything breakable (they don't get wild in there...but kids + water + glass just seems like a bad idea). So that narrowed the options a bit. 

But I promised not to belabor the details let me just skip to where we landed:


Sources: Target
Seriously, all Target. The candles, towels, cups, shelf. All Target. (Plus two fake succulents from IKEA to add some Scandinavian style to all that Minnesota charm.)

We'll never burn the candles.
We'll never use those towels.
We'll never have to water those "plants". 
The kids can't even reach those cotton swabs.

All form, no function. Super fun.

See you next week...when we'll hopefully have some progress to share on the vanity. (But- at the rate things are going, will likely have to stall some more with some pictures of the shower curtain.)

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