Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Closer…

After a couple weeks of inactivity and indecisiveness about bathroom design choices, we decided to visit a wholesale flooring showroom to check out their selection (and prices) compared to Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s, etc. Luke knew about this place because his architecture firm works with them for their interior projects. (His connections really come in handy sometimes.)

When I walked into ProSource, I was of course overwhelmed. Where to begin?!


While Luke has had a pretty good idea of what he’s envisioning for the bathroom, I’d kind of been all over the map. But recently we had managed to narrow it down and agree on a general color scheme. Amazingly enough, we ended up finding a tile that we both really liked at ProSource. Since we’re planning on doing a stained concrete floor, the tile would only be used in the custom-size shower (roughly 3x4’) and possibly the narrow wall behind the vanity.

The one we found was called Bombay Salsette porcelain tile (by Emser), and the price is actually pretty reasonable ($2.35 for a 13x13”). It also comes in a variety of sizes so we’d have options for different patterns.

[ image via fastfloors.com ]

The tile is designed to resemble slate, and it has quite a bit of color variation between the blue/gray and the brown. (Although the image above seems a little extreme with the colors compared to what we saw in the store.) But we’re thinking that will help tie it in nicely with a brown stained floor. Since it’s kind of dark, we'd probably install a lot of bright LED lighting in the shower so it doesn’t seem too cave-like or claustrophobic.

This PDF from the Emser catalog shows a coordinating 2x2” mosaic tile (which isn’t available yet), but at the store we found a different 1x1” mosaic accent tile that was pretty much awesome. It’s not part of the Bombay line, but I’m pretty sure it would still coordinate with the Salsette tile. It has a mix of brown and blue glass tiles with a “cracked ice” look, along with some brown marble tiles. At a wholesale price of $27 per 11x11” mesh tile, this was one pricey, but apparently all mosaic tiles are pretty pricey? I don’t know, but I really like it. I couldn't find this one anywhere on the Internet, so here's my own crappy picture:

Then, a salesperson directed us to the matching marble (from the above mosaic) that could be used for the vanity top, called Emperador Dark. It’s got white veining in it, which would work nicely with this Parisian White Vessel Sink, along with the dark brown vanity we're envisioning. I Googled this marble just to read more about it, and apparently it’s a pretty popular choice for bathrooms and other interior applications (see here and here). Anyway, they didn’t offer it in a slab at ProSource, so we still need to contact someone else for countertop pricing, unless we decide to do a tiled countertop instead of a slab.

[ image via mistones.com ]

I was drawn to the Emperador Dark at first. However... I should point out there's also an Emperador Light marble, which is also featured in the mosaic tile above. Although more subtle, it would contrast more with a dark wood vanity. But then a white sink wouldn't quite "pop" off the countertop as much. But I also don't want the bathroom to seem too dark and heavy. I'm kind of torn between these two marbles at the moment, if you couldn't tell. Any thoughts? Anyone?

[ image via granitegurus.com ]

Here's all three next to each other in the store. (Another crappy picture courtesy of my camera.) Also, the Emperor Dark marble looks super dull because it's unpolished.

After our little trip, I felt like we finally had a vision and a palette we could both agree on. We took home a sample of each to look at them closer and under non-fluorescent lighting. They take on a much warmer tone here.

Although I know there are thousands of other choices out there that we’d probably be happy with, I think we just need to make a decision and stop looking, or else we’ll drive ourselves crazy. Right now, I feel pretty confident in these selections and I think it would be easy to pick out a coordinating paint color and the rest of our fixtures. Although these are all on the dark side, we could balance that out with a lighter paint color on the walls, yes? I sense another mood board coming!

So, what do you think about this new direction so far? And do you have any thoughts or words of wisdom regarding certain materials for a bathroom? (porcelain/ceramic; granite/marble/other countertop materials...)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Feeling moody about the bathroom

Get ready to hear more and more about our basement bathroom!

It seems like it will be in the far-off future when it gets done (let alone the entire basement). But according to Luke, once we get our hole filled back in with concrete, the construction will start going pretty quickly. So I’ve come to the realization that I (we) actually do need to start making some design decisions soon.

And before I go any further, here's a reminder of what our basic floor plan will look like:

So after a few trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot to browse the bathroom fixtures and tile, I wasn’t really feelin’ anything I saw (except for some mosaic tile at HD). So I turned to the internet and became immediately overwhelmed with all the choices, of course.

I’ve seen mood boards on all sorts of other blogs, but now I finally realize how helpful they can be in a situation like this when you’re essentially starting from scratch and need some direction. So my new mission was to put together some ideas and concepts for what I (we) envision in the bathroom.

And since we're building it from the ground up, we know that we have a chance to do something really cool and different from our upstairs bathrooms, so we want to take advantage of that (without spending an arm and a leg).

I wasn’t really sure where to start, but it seemed to make sense to find a sink first and then base the rest of the elements around that. We finally narrowed it down to three sinks – all vessels, but all unique styles. And based on the prices and reviews, I think any one of these sinks is a very realistic option.

From there, I just searched numerous sites to try and find other major elements… namely, the faucet, vanity, tile, and mirror. I haven’t even gotten into shower faucets or toilets yet, so my mood boards are still a little incomplete. Also, the tile would just be for the shower and possibly the wall behind the sink.  We're thinking of doing a stained concrete floor.

I know there are so many other choices out there that I haven’t even stumbled upon, but there are only so many hours in the day! So these three concepts below are what I’ve come up with for my initial inspiration. Oh, and I didn’t even pay any attention to costs, so I’m pretty sure a lot of these products would be way out of our budget. But again, it’s just for inspiration. So with that said...

Shades of Gray
1. Bianca 30" Wall-Mounted Modern Bathroom Vanity - Espresso
2. Hampton Bay Brushed Nickel Finish Wall Sconce
3. Quadrate Glossy Black Beveled Wall Mirror
4. Parisian White Vitreous China Vessel Lavatory Sink
5. Executive Vessel Sink Faucet with Metal Lever Handles
6. Coastal Keystones - Tropical Thunder Mosaic Tile
7. Molten Glass Tile - Silver Moon

Classic & Copper
1. Tackwood Vanity Light in Burnished Bronze
2. Tuscan Rustic Large Wall Mirror
3. DeNovo Pomegranate Glass Vessel Sink 
4. Aspen Lodge - Golden Ridge Field Tile
5. Aspen Lodge - Golden Ridge Mosaic Field Tile
6. American Standard Cambridge Vessel Stand in Warm Walnut
7. Danze - Fairmont Vessel Sink Faucet in Oil Rubbed Bronze

Sleek and Sophisticated
1. Flat Stock Lighting - Triple Sconce 
2. Burnt Espresso Wall Mirror
3. Spark - Smoky Glimmer Field Tile
4. Pegasus 18" Vessel Vanity in Espresso with Black Granite Top
5. Vigo Industries Magma Tempered Glass Vessel Sink
6. Danze - Fairmont Two Handle Wall Mount Bathroom Sink Faucet

So which concept is your favorite? Do you recommend any good sources for budget-friendly bathroom fixtures, tile, etc.?

NOTE: Little House on the Corner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recipe of the week: Slow-cooker Vegetarian Chili

If you’re hoping for another basement update, sorry, not this time! Hopefully soon, though. For now, I do have another yummy recipe to hold you over. Aren’t you excited?!

In an effort to explore some other meat-free meals during Lent (don't get me wrong; I love my Tuna Helper and mac & cheese), I decided to try a recipe that my mom had made for us when we went home over Christmas. This one’s a winner, folks!

Slow-cooker Vegetarian Chili
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 28-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
water as desired

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook until vegetables are tender.

I love any recipe where the instructions are only one sentence long, don’t you? Truly, it doesn’t get much easier than this. Chopping the veggies was the only time-consuming part (and amazingly enough, I didn’t even slice my finger as I’m prone to do when wielding the kitchen knife). But I digress…

Some other notes from my experience:

- I used two sweet potatoes, simply because I felt like one wasn’t enough.
- I mixed in some red peppers with the green peppers (wild woman!). You could pretty much throw in whatever you want into this soup.
- I probably added about 3-4 cups of water
- It took about 5 to 5 ½ hours until the veggies were tender (not mushy though). I had the crockpot on high most of the time.

The recipe ended up making more than I thought it would, so I’m going to try freezing some of it. Oh yeah, in case you’re interested in how it tastes… yummy!! It's obviously missing the flavor you would get from having a meat, but it's not bland. It has slightly smoky flavor from the cumin and fire-roasted tomatoes. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that this “chili” is a pretty healthy meal, too. Bonus points for that! Oh, and it easily costs under $10 to make. Double bonus points!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I’d like to think that this could turn into some type of series, with me blogging about a new recipe each week, but let's be realistic, that probably won't actually happen. I'm just trying to build up my recipe repertoire a little bit.

With that said, I’ve had my eye on this recipe (via Shopping Candy for my first home) for awhile now.  I heart lasagna, and her pictures made it look so scrumptious. My only minor concern was that I’ve only used the “oven-ready” lasagna noodles before -- not the ones you actually have to boil, which is kind of necessary for this recipe. I was worried that they would end up tearing or sticking together, but they came out pretty good! I think I could have boiled them a little longer though.

Even though the recipe is also posted on the aforementioned blog, I copied it here along with my notes. Drool-worthy photos to follow!

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

9 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese (I used full-fat)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce (I didn’t end up using this much because it seemed too saucey)
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used an Italian blend, and didn’t measure out each tablespoon… as far as I’m concerned, you can’t have enough cheese)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. (I think I was a little conservative with my ricotta mixture at first, because my last roll was completely stuffed with what mixture remained.)

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese (or 2... or 3). Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls. (Seems like it would make more sense to boil another noodle for an even 10, but whatever!)

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Doesn't everything look fancier when it's all rolled up like this?

When they came out of the oven, they looked so yummy and melty!

But more importantly, they tasted just as good as they looked. I like this recipe because it’s easy, not too time-consuming, and has a simple list of ingredients. I’ll definitely make these spinach lasagna rolls again sometime. They’d also make a good presentation if you're having company for dinner! Next time, I might add some more seasonings to the tomato sauce, or else just use an actual pasta sauce for a little extra flavor. But overall, this one gets two thumbs up from me!


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