The captain’s bathroom becomes… a much more versatile space

We have a HUGE post for you today. Lots of pictures and lots of words. But when you give one non-functional space three distinct purposes, I think that happens. So grab a drink and settle in. Let’s take a tour of the captain’s bathroom turned closet/vanity/back bar.


Oh, it’s important to note (in case you’re not freakishly categorizing the details of the firehouse) that the pipes in this space were filled with cement at some point before we bought the place, effectively rendering it useless as a bathroom. We figured our guests would be happy to use the communal bathroom that’s right next door to this room, which left us free to re-purpose this former bathroom space. We started this makeover by giving the walls and trim a coat of Pantone’s June Bug to match the captain’s bedroom.

Ok, back to the tour. When you enter the room the area to the right used to house a sink. You can see the cleat and pipes for it below the mirror. We thought this space would be perfect for a vanity – a space to do your hair or makeup (hello window light!) away from some of the goings on in the communal bathroom.


Back in April we stopped by Ikea on a trip to Chicago and snagged a few cabinets (I’ll show you in a minute) AND we lucked out by finding the perfect floating vanity in the Ikea showroom.


The Besta Burs wall shelf may have been intended to house DVDs, but it was the perfect size for our vanity area. It earned bonus points for coming in the same high gloss, gray finish as the cabinets, and at just 100 clams it was an easy decision to bring this home.


Seriously it looks like it was custom built for this space.


(Unintentional selfie…)

After assembling it, we removed the sink cleat to make way for the piece. We’re trying to minimize damage to the existing stone, but in this instance the installation required three holes and anchors to attach it to the wall. I think it was well worth it.

I added a hair dryer, some extra toiletries and a box of kleenex. I’m sure there are some other goodies I could tuck in here for guests, so send me any ideas.


This area still needs a new light fixture and possibly some more mirrors or art. We’re still noodling that and awaiting the opening of our very own Ikea in St Louis. Then we’ll have lots of affordable mirrors at our fingertips! I also feel like this space needs a little something in way of accessories… but I’m not sure what yet.


Here’s a shot standing in the area where the toilet used to live.

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The window sill also got an upgrade with some sweet, sun loving plants.


This guy has exploded since I put him here/gave him the sun he really wanted.


Opposite the sink-turned-vanity area, the space is divided in two: shower on the left, former toilet space on the right.


Part of the rationale behind removing the closet in the captain’s bedroom was that we knew the shower stall would work perfectly as a replacement.


We installed a bar in each section (in the front where you would hang your towel and in the back where the actual shower happens) using construction adhesive on both ends.

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This gives guests a spot to hang their clothes and us an area for our winter coats (I promise we have more than 1 coat each… I didn’t want to put too much weight on the bars until the adhesive had more time to cure.)

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We also added a luggage holder in the guest section. We scored this guy many moons ago at a furniture re-sell warehouse that has since moved. It was one of those places with SO much junk, but we walked away with this guy for $10 and a HUGE whiteboard that Aaron uses in the studio for (maybe) $50. We’ve never had a good spot for this guy. In fact, I think I’ve promised to give this to my mom about 10 times… so sorry, mom, we’re (for real) keeping it. We gave it a rub down with some Restor-A-Finish and called it good.

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Rounding out the trio of functionality: a coffee bar and back bar area.


Our bread rack turned bar is still one of my favorite things in the firehouse, but it doesn’t offer any covered storage for things like extra bottles and mixers. We also needed a home for the soda stream.

Also, we bought a mini fridge for Aaron to use in the studio, and since we moved here we’ve become very spoiled by having it on the second floor. Once we’re done snacking on something chilled, we don’t necessarily have to walk all the way downstairs to put it away. #lazy We also tuck bottles of white wine in there for easy access. #lazyandtipsy It has been living in the guestroom, but with all the new furniture it didn’t have a home… and who really wants to stare at a mini fridge? Not me.

So we decided to dedicate this former toilet section of the room to a back bar/coffee bar. Crucial to this part of the makeover was running an outlet for the fridge. While the electrician was here rerouting some things in the living room, he agreed to install a run of conduit from the light fixture to the bar area for a few extra bucks. Here’s the ceiling before:


And after. You can see the conduit extending to the back of the wall.


We also grabbed an inexpensive fixture from Ikea to finish off the space and add a little more light.



We grabbed an upper cabinet from Ikea that fit between the conduit and the wall. We also snagged a lower cabinet to sit next to the fridge. We knew we would need a countertop for the lower cabinet, but once we set it in place, it was clear we needed more.

The bottom cabinet is deeper than the fridge, so we pulled it forward to be flush, which left about a foot of space behind the fridge. I knew this area was ripe for things to fall behind, especially with my klutzy ways. Sure enough, before the counter was installed I managed to drop one of our soda stream carafes and the flashlight I used to see if the soda stream carafe was intact (good news, it didn’t break) behind the fridge. It was the first, but surely not the last, time I’ve wanted one of those old people grabber things that seemed to be promoted in every commercial break during the early 90s. Holler at me 90s kids. You know what I’m talking about. We rescued both items by bending a metal hangar into a hook… although Aaron admitted to losing the metal hangar behind the fridge at one point. It might still be back there….


To remedy this problem, we purchased two project panels. They happened to be the perfect depth, so Aaron just needed to cut the length to create two flat surfaces and a waterfall in between. He notched each piece for biscuits, stained them and then glued the whole thing together before installing it.

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Aaron even went the extra mile to add some trim to the back.

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This space also gave us a use for our extra Keurig. Now our guests can enjoy a cup of coffee in their room at any time of the day! It’s like we’re a real hotel, you guys.

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So that’s it! One space, three uses (and a TON of pictures and 1,200+ words.)

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Another new to us dresser

You can definitely file this under “furniture we don’t need… but we really, really wanted.” I blame the knobs. Look at them!


This is yet another (but the last one we’ll talk about for now) find at South Jefferson Mid Century Modern. It’s one I saw on Instagram that made me pause, scroll back and think “Would Aaron like that?” I wrongly assumed he wouldn’t and kept moving because who really needs 5 super skinny drawers?

When we went in for THE desk, this dresser was still available. Aaron gravitated toward it instantly, and I discovered that it was actually a stack of three drawers on each side (and therefore MUCH more functional.) We reasoned that we could swap out the behemoth of a dresser we have in our master bedroom for this much more stylish piece. So we included it on the wishlist and toted it home with our other scores. It waited alongside the Broyhill before being moved to the (future) downstairs living room/current workshop disaster zone to get some love.


Seriously, the knobs.


It had a little wear all over and a little rogue paint.

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The worst part was the top, which lost its luster many years ago.

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Aaron cleaned the whole piece with Murphy Oil Soap and gave it a coat of Danish Oil before turning his attention to the top.


He sanded the top and rubbed on three coats of Danish Oil to bring it back to the right color.


You can really see what a difference it made.


Then he coated it with 2 rounds of Feed-N-Wax to bring back some of the shine.

Here’s the dresser we retired to make way for this mid century beauty.


It was super functional, but also super huge. So huge that we couldn’t open the door all the way.

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Much better!

Here’s a look at the drawer configuration.


When I shot this I realized that I forgot to fill up the bottom left drawer. This dresser doesn’t really come close to fitting all of the clothes the other one held… but ignoring a drawer completely certainly wasn’t helping!


Oh those knobs…



We always prioritize our bedroom really low when it comes to updates. Even at our house in Kansas City, it took us about four years to paint our master a color we liked. In fact, the only reason we painted this room was for an Alive Magazine shoot. Otherwise it would still be the dreadful green and brown combo we inherited.

All that is to say, it’s nice to have a fun update in a space we use so often. And since this is my dresser I get to enjoy those knobs on the daily.

Framing and painting the workshop

I feel like I can stop being a broken record. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “We’re going to start the workshop,” or “The workshop is next!” or some iteration of that, but if we’re talking over/under 100… I’d bet over. Yesh! When it comes to this renovation, it’s always funny to look back at what we thought would happen vs. what actually did happen. Well, most days it’s funny…

But I digress. Here’s a statement I’m loving: The workshop is underway!

I thought you might need a refresher on the layout of the basement. It’s basically a blank slate with columns running down the middle.


Although it normally looks more like this…


We decided to dedicate nearly half of the space to the workshop (after changing things up a little.) The “New” layout is still the plan.


That required constructing walls between the columns and at the front of the workshop to define the space.


That picture kind of sucks. Here’s a better view with the walls filled in. We used 3/4″ treated plywood to serve as walls and work as a good base for anything Aaron wants to hang.


The walls and ceiling got a coat of white primer and white paint. Instantly it feels so much brighter and much more fresh in here.


He also topped the floor with two coats of Rustoleum’s EPOXYSHIELD in gray gloss (minus the flecks, because why do epoxy floors need specks?)

Here’s the opposite view (looking toward the stairs) before and after paint.

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It feels GREAT to see progress on the workshop! Next up: moving some of the big tools in, running more electrical, and adding lights!

What’s your broken record project? The one you can’t stop talking about for good or bad reasons?

A dresser for the captain’s bedroom

New furniture was not on the list for the captain’s bedroom makeover. But when everything was painted (walls and floor), new duct work was hung, and a cool light feature was added, the miscellaneous furniture that was occupying this space looked… even more miscellaneous than it did before. (Perhaps the orange walls were blinding us?)

When we visited South Jefferson Mid Century Modern to snag THE desk, we took a look around and spotted a Broyhill Premiere dresser that would be perfect for this space.


The dimensions were great, and while it had some wear it was in spectacular condition. I hope I have as few dings as this piece when I’m 50+

Also we are majorly in love with real wood furniture. It’s so durable and classic, and don’t you just feel like an adult when you buy it? I do. It feels like an investment… even though the pieces at South Jeff MCM are rarely a splurge.

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The surface had a few scars and the legs needed some help.

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So we consulted the interwebs and landed on an overall cleaning with Murphy Oil Soap. This stuff smells SO good!


The legs got some glue and a little clamp action.

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Originally we tried rubbing it down with Danish Oil, but when that didn’t give us the results we wanted, we opted for a coat of Restor-A-Finish.


It’s not perfect, but we think the imperfections adds to the charm.

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It’s a great spot to store our extra linens. And that wood against the Pantone walls! Just stop. Love it!

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We were waiting to get this piece in place to decide on art, accessories and plants. (We would love something with some height in that sun-filled corner.) Once that’s done, I’ll call this space 85% done. We’re still on the hunt (albeit a slow one) for matching side tables for the bed, a side table for the Mr Chair and maybe a lamp for that nook too.