For those of you new to The Painted House, let me introduce the cottage. TPH oldtimers know all about it. They are the smug ones over there–smug but so pretty, aren’t they? Anyway, it was a summer day in 2008 when I first walked into this rundown, vacant house in the mountains. It was neglected. Animals stored chestnuts in the living room. In spite of all this, I knew it was a gem needing a good cleaning and a little love. Along with my parents-in-law, we put an offer in immediately. A month later it was ours.
I had done one small-scale remodel before but nothing like this. Aside from some amazing stone work, timber ceilings, and wood floors, the whole house had to be redone. New plumbing, new electrical, new sheetrock, dig a well, new roof, new exterior facade… And, we had to furnish it–all this on a tight budget. There were some DIY moments, some faking, some serendipity, and lots of wheelin’ and dealin’. We hit Craigslist, garage sales, outlets, and roadside stands for goodies to outfit what we now call The Cottage. The finished product is a lesson in how frugality and beauty can be BFFs. This week I share my favorite finds, deals, and tricks that created our little mountain getaway.
Original stone wall.
With a kitchen and three bathrooms, the cottage required a lot of tile work. Tile work isn’t cheap. There isn’t a lot you can do about the cost of labor–unless you hire a drunk tile layer like we did, our only major hiccup in the remodel. So, we looked to save money on the purchase of tile. Friend Holly gave me a few boxes of biscuit-colored subway tiles that were left over from her bathroom remodel. Unfortunately, biscuit wasn’t going to work in the white kitchen; but I found that white subway tiles come cheap at Home Depot. Cheap and charming and a classic? I was sold on the popular white subway tile for the kitchen in the classic brick pattern.
Eliminating the upper cabinets gave us more room to install the tile–all the way up to the upper shelves. I originally wanted to run the tile up to the ceiling for maximum texture but decided it was better to save that cash in labor and materials. Turns out, having an exaggerated backsplash does the job just fine of adding texture and shine.
White subway tiles with white grout.
Early on in the project we bought on Ebay a copper sink for the master bathroom. Then came the antique white clawfoot tub. I knew I wanted to do travertine on the floor–but also in the shower? I had those few boxes of biscuit subway tiles from Holly–but not enough to do the whole shower. Plus, I didn’t want biscuit ceramic tiles and a white enamel bathtub. Good ol’ Home Depot to the rescue again. What if we mixed the biscuit tiles with the white tiles? The white tiles looked great with the bathtub and the biscuit looked great with the copper and travertine. Mixing the two together gives the perfect vintage look.
We mixed Holly’s biscuit tile with the white tile below the tile mosaic band. Are tile bands lame now like wallpaper borders? If so, oh well, because I like that I was able to bring in some glass and natural stone in this accent. Above the band is only white subway tile. It all is grouted in tan–which drives the vintage look home. Travertine squares cover the shower floor.
Meanwhile, downstairs, another bathroom needed attention. This subway train was unstoppable. For the price and timelessness, white subway tile couldn’t be beat.
I decided to do a more contemporary application with it in the second bathroom by installing the tile in a grid pattern. This time I chose white grout to keep the look fresh and modern. And, there goes that tile band again.
There is more Best of the Cottage:
For the complete before and afters of the cottage renovation, type cottage tour in the search box on the right.