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Saturday, November 19, 2011

the barn half bath: details

Thank you all so much for your wonderful, wonderful comments and emails on the barn half bath! 
I greatly appreciate them and am thrilled to know that you like the room.
If I miss any of your questions in this "details" post, please ask again.

The walls are new, random-width (8-12 inch) pine boards stained to look like old, oxidized barn boards.  (My custom stain formula can be found under "My paint and stain colors" on my sidebar, as is the floor stain.)
The vanity is painted Benjamin Moore's Ashwood Moss (1484) in semi-gloss. 
(This color is from their Classic Color Collection and isn't on the current color wheel, but sample chips can still be found at a BM paint store.)

The toilet to the right of the vanity sits in front of a full-size window.  I love the luxury of light from full-size windows in baths.  I use a simple paper cellular pull down shade for privacy.

The antique hand-painted bird prints with their antique birdseye maple frames and original antique wavy glass were found on the Oregon coast several years ago.  Having never found the perfect place to hang them, they sat in a drawer.  When I was decorating the room I remembered them, and thought they would be perfect here as I loved the idea of the contrast of the frames to the wood walls.

View from the window in late afternoon light.
As I mentioned several posts ago, the painting is one of our favorites and you've seen it leaning against the mirror on the mantel in the living room awaiting its place here while the room was being renovated.
The picture light was a steal (around $30) and is from Home Depot.

The last cuttings from my favorite coral-orange tuberous begonias from Summer in a vintage mason jar.  I love the blue of the jar.  The antique ironstone soap dish is marked "Hotel" on the bottom... the stories it could probably tell!   French Savon de Marseille olive oil soap sits in the soap dish. 
When we found the marble it had simple iron screws that (as you can see) had rusted on to the marble.  I had intended to look for a clavos (a large, usually round, decorative iron nail) but then remembered this antique brass-rimmed porcelain curtain tie-back that I had used in Dallas as a picture nail (I hung a painting on a chain from the tie-back).  I "thought" I actually had two, and after a hunt I found the second one.  Their stems were cut down and retrofitted to work on the backsplash.  They actually protrude just slightly from the marble, and I love the effect.  I also love how it mimics the porcelain piece on the faucet.  This one is cracked, which only makes me adore it more!

Leather wrapped vintage rack hangs over the vanity.

The small old iron lamp was found at an antiques shop for only $8!  I loved its lines.  It was so dirty that I had no idea it had this great gold paint on it until I got it home and cleaned it up!  The small, gold-lined, shade is from Cranberry Hill Lighting in Cape Neddick, Maine.  The real-wax sleeve covers are from Lumiere.  I found the flame-tipped light bulbs locally, but Lumiere sells them; and they sell the standard base bulbs, which are extremely difficult to find.  (See my sidebar for a 10% discount coupon code from Lumiere.  Also, thank you to all of you who have let me know that you have purchased from the company and love their wax sleeves!  I love sharing great sources.)
For this lamp I did something a little unusual... I used regular sized sleeves with chandelier bulbs.   I wanted the "weight" of the regular sleeves for the lamp base, but also wanted the delicacy of the smaller bulbs in the room.   I then had my electrician (Dan;) lower the sockets so that you can not see in to the larger sleeves down to the socket.

A small iron hook, original to the property, was used for the towel hook. The dark gray towels are Thomas O'Brien from Target (they are deliciously soft) in Fighter Pilot Blue, which is really a dark slate grey. 
We also had an original extra-large version of the iron hook that I realized would be perfect to use as the toilet paper holder. But, no matter where I tried to place it, it was like a bright white blinking light when you walked into the room. I just couldn't do it! I finally came up with the solution for the t.p.- it now sits in a small antique iron urn next to the toilet, hidden from view, but perfectly functional.

Wood switch plate cover (and electrical outlet covers) stained to match the walls and go away!  Switches are brown instead of the usual white. 

A simple hook found in the barn is the lock for the room.


I loved that so many of you know me so well that you knew I had a reason for putting the mirror behind the door!  I did. 
I had initially "thought" I wanted a mirror above the vanity, and I found a beautiful antique frame with this mirror in it.  Sadly, it had been painted an awful green color and as I worked for days to gently strip the finish I realized that a mirror there changed how I wanted the room to "feel."  For one,  it seemed expected and that didn't seem right for this space, and two, and this is big...  the man-sized 65" plasma is directly across from the vanity in the barn room.  That meant that you would have the constant movement and flashing of the changing images in the mirror.  It was in that second of realization that the mirror above the vanity was axed! 
Knowing I did need to have some kind of a mirror in the room I placed several small antique shaving mirrors from a collection we have on the vanity.  Loved it for a day or two, and then it felt cluttered.  I removed the shaving mirrors.  When designing a space I'll often just sit or stand or walk-it for hours to see/feel/study different angles/lines of sight/elevations and it was during one of these studies with the door closed that the thought of putting the mirror behind the door popped into my head as the perfect solution.  I mean, that's when you would use a mirror, in the privacy of the bath with the door closed since you really don't have to watch yourself wash your hands;)!  I checked clearance and the mirror alone would just work on the wall behind the barn door... perfect, problem solved!  I used the antique, beveled oval mirror from the frame that I had initially found for over the vanity.  Now, instead of the constant changing images from the tv being reflected in the mirror, you get a glimpse outside!  Much better and I love the surprise of finding the mirror as you close the door.

The wood tassels were painted to match the vanity.

The faucet is solid brass with a "living" oiled bronze finish that will naturally wear in the most used areas with use. It is made by Kingston Brass.  It is a "wide-spread" faucet- something to consider when retrofitting a faucet to an older piece, which is determined by the measurement between the two handles.  You don't want to fall in love with a faucet only to find it won't work in your application.  I had initially wanted to refurbish the original brass faucets (which I loved) that came with the sink, but our plumber expressed great concern about their condition-  i.e. they were goners!  Dan was also not a fan of having the cold water come out of one faucet and the hot out of another.  Because the original holes were so far apart,  I had to find a "widespread" faucet .  We then had the plumber drill the center hole (using a diamond drill-bit) for the spout.

The old French chandelier masterfully wired by my very handsome in-house electrician (though not by trade;) with a little peak into the barn room.

The original barn door hardware.

Notice how the barn bath floor is a different color from the barn room. That is not a difference in lighting, but a random coincidence- all the boards the carpenters grabbed to lay the half bath (which was the first room to be laid) were this same color! After my initial "Guys, you have to mix up the different stained boards!" I actually loved it, as it is very authentic detail.  If this little bump-out had been original, it would have been an add-on and the wood used for the floor would have been put down at a different time, and would have been a different color from the barn room.  It was a serendipitous mistake!

A peek into the kitchen!  You can see the kitchen-to-barn room steps and how the rooms relate.  The barn room is 3 feet down from the farmhouse.

In case you missed the "befores" click  HERE !


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this 'details' post and will file it away for reference, as we are getting ready to renovate our ensuite. While the rustic look isn't the one we want, some of your details will transfer very well.
    I don't always comment but would like you to know that I follow your posts with interest.

  2. Thanks for linking to Lumiere. I'm glad to have a resource for bulbs to bring out the best in my vintage lighting.

  3. Joan Oh my gosh I adore it all!! Every detail is very special and has you stop to take it in.

    Thank you so, so much for your well wishes. I am coming along with my rehab. Slow, but sure.

    Love and Hugs,

    Art by Karena

  4. Pondside- Thank you for reading and I appreciate your comment!

    ellen- You'll be very pleased with the company- great products and super customer service.

    Karena- I am SO happy to hear you are doing well!!

  5. Just perfection! I love how you've added such special touches and I do love the grey. Is the paint, Ashwood Moss, a grey/green or more grey? I'm looking for a pretty shade of grey and this is just beautiful! Great idea to place the mirror on the back of the door too.


  6. This is a stand-out!! Love the soulful mood you've created. $8 for that absolutely adorable lamp - grand slam home run!

  7. Congratulations! it is really lovely. Would love a holiday escape there. x

  8. Detail freak that I am...I was pretty sure you had painted those pulls...I love how you share all the steps that make your spaces so gorgeous!

  9. Just wonderful! You never disappoint!xoxo Dianne

  10. Hi Joan! I found your blog a long time ago and read your posts from the beginning. It was like reading a book I could not put down! Your decorating style is simply scrumptous and being an antique lover myself I love how you incorporate your gorgeous pieces into your decorating. The rustic qualities introduced in your barn half-bath are perfect. My favorite piece is the old chest made into a vanity and the exquisite piece of marble you found for the top and backsplash. The faucets you chose are perfect for it. I do have a couple of questions. I have two antique mahogany end tables with their original marble tops. The marble is stained and a little drab looking, I've never done anything to them. Did you or would you have old marble cleaned or just leave it alone? If you do clean it what do I use or should I leave it to a professional?

    One more thing, detail freak that I am as well. I would love to see a picture with the large window and toilet space...please. :)

    Thank you again for sharing your beautiful home with us!

    Ft Worth, TX

  11. I like the placement of the leather wrapped vintage rack, it’s like a comical play on how you might feel looking into a mirror first thing in the a DEER in the headlights!! :)

  12. Oh my word! I just found your blog yesterday. So very beautiful! My mother grew up in a circa 1900 farmhouse in Virginia. It warms my heart to see this renovation. I also really appreciate your source guide posts. Truly inspirational!

  13. Thank you! I'm so excited to find this...and thanks for sharing the details.

  14. Joan, Thank you for so generously sharing your knowledge and resources! As I read through the post I realized that you were very eloquently describing the dialogue that happens between you and the project when it takes on a life of its own and become "alive". To this day, I am surprised and delighted when the project speaks to me. telling me where it wants me to go.

    Love Ben Moore Ashwood Green. It's such a seductive color as the light changes on it over the course of a day.

    Have a relaxing Sunday.


  15. joan- i hope you realize what a dream home you have... the bathroom is gorgeous! and i literally just picked up a dresser with the exact same knobs today.. i hope to one day have a home such as yours. best wishes..


  16. Joan, I am redoing my downstairs bath and this has given me some great ideas. Thank you! One (odd) question - can you tell me what toilet you have? I know that you and Dan do such thorough research so I'm curious to know how you pick which toilet to buy.

  17. I LOVE the barn door, it is so charming especially with the wood left as it was found. All of the finishes have so much patina and it makes the space so warm and cozy.

  18. Helen from Ft.Worth- thank you for your comment! It's always fun to hear when someone has read the "whole thing"! I'm glad you asked about the marble as Nancy had a similar question in the last post and I realize now that I didn't respond to it in this details post. While there are many marble cleaners on the market I haven't found one that 'really' cleaned old marble. I use (my favorite) Bar Keeper's Friend. It removes many stains (though not rust stains) and leaves a soft, smooth finish. I wet the marble well with a sponge, then sprinkle BKF and scrub. I then continue to rinse with a clean sponge until all the BKF is gone. I even use it on my kitchen island to get out etch marks. I wouldn't used it on polished marble, but have had great success with it on honed. Use at your own risk however;) as this is not an "ordained" cleaner on marble. It was recommended to me by our stone fabricator to use on our soapstone, and one day I tried it on the marble and it worked great. I will work on that photo!

    Donna in Potomac- too funny!!

    Nicki- Welcome!!

    Pat- You're Welcome!

    Steve- steal away;)

    John- I'm sure you do too, but I think it is so important to be quiet and really "listen" when it starts speaking!

    colleen- I do! promise.
    Congrats on your new dresser!

  19. Joan,
    I'm glad to know that those boards are not old barn wood. I was wondering what barn I was going to rip down to get my boards! I love everything you've done in this bath, and we have the same kind of lock on our bathroom door!

  20. Anon 6:13- not an odd at all. I know how overwhelming it all can be, so it's always nice to have a jumping off point or a recommendation. We have used Kohler toilets throughout the house. I just looked for my invoice to give you the exact name of the style used here, but I couldn't find it. Per our plumbers (I don't know if this is true or not) the toilets from a plumbing showroom/company are different (i.e. better quality) toilets than the same brands that they sell at HD/Lowes. Because of that advice we purchased all through a plumbing company.

  21. I don't know what to's spectacular! The details are carefully thought out and perfect.

  22. I have read your blog for well over a year and continue to relish in your prose, your style and most importantly how generous you are in sharing your tips or as I refer to them as 'secrets' that help so many of us!

    Thank you, NB in Ontario, Canada

  23. Very nice! Love the resourcefulness! ;D

  24. Thanks for your answer, Joan. My marble tops are honed but are pretty bad so I can't wait to try BKF!

    Helen from Ft Worth

  25. Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous home, the details, your sources, and your wonderful welcoming personality with us. Love everything about this little bathroom! So comfy and special. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your hubby...and of course Ella.

    Debbie Mason

  26. Every square inch, every last detail is delicious perfection. I always feel so peaceful after visiting your blog, Joan ~ I could only imagine the peace that must exude from your marvelous home.
    Always a pleasure. :)
    Happy weekend and Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. I love your's the first time I've been here and I'm looking forward to checking out more of your beautiful home. Thank you for sharing (your floors are AMAZING. AMAZING!)

  28. your so on top of it, joan. everything you use is so unique. you are fabulous! i'm always in awe of your talent.

    ashley over @

  29. The "befores" click takes you to amazon for a faucet, but that is okay, I enjoyed seeing the faucet, and really enjoyed your blog!

  30. Hi Joan, I am Wendy and I have been following for some time though this is my first comment. We recently purchased an 1832 Greek Revival farmhouse that we are in love with, and I am in the early stages of planning some rennovations and decorating projects. The kitchen will be a "gut job" I see nothing worth salvaging. The rest of the house just needs paint, TLC and a nicely curated eye toward decor. Your blog is my absolute favorite and has proivided me MUCH inspiration. I was going to write today with the same question already answered above about the toilets you choose and thanks for giving that information. We have one that needs replacement and it is important to me to find something that has a vintage vibe without being too cute. Just want a basic toilet that looks "classic" it sounds funny to talk of a toilet that way but these are surprisingly hard to find. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your considerable wisdom and impeccable design eye. I look forward to seeing the rest of tha barn room and anything else you dish up!Best wishes to you and yours.

  31. Joan- I was waiting for the details to post a comment! Fabulous, as always, but I thought the remake of the dresser from what it was originally was truly amazing! Now if only you could help me solve my toilet paper holder conundrum so easily....And my husband and kids voted against the original separate hot and cold water taps too, so I capitulated! Can't wait to see the big room!

  32. I just love all your attention to detail Joan it truly shows how much you care about your home. Your bath is fabulous and we're laying the boards sideways for Rick's workroom since it will give the illusion of being elongated, always good for a small room. Wonderful job once again!

    Enjoy your Sunday!

  33. jayne- oops! thank you for letting me know! I have corrected the link.

  34. Wendy- good luck with your new antique home, how exciting!! I will continue to look for the name of this toilet and if I find it I will add it to the post.

  35. Amazing!! Looks great. Funny I had just put some of my husband's racks in our guest bath:) I love the masculine touch they give.

  36. I love the details of your barn bathroom. So original and creative and unexpected. Great job Joan!

  37. Joan,
    I really appreciate the details and enjoy that is the full picture of the process and gives me tools for projects in my own home. Thanks for the towel that they are accessible (love Target)


  38. So much thought to detail, it is wonderful! Rosie

  39. Your bathroom is beautiful, but I am drooling over your vanity right now. That color is gorgeous - Ashwood Moss could be my new favorite paint color! :) Thanks so much for sharing, Joan! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

  40. Oh and I don't usually feature furniture colors, but this is too good to pass up. Do you mind if I feature your vanity? Thanks, Joan!

  41. Thank you Kristin! I would love to have you feature the Ashwood Moss on your wonderful blog!

  42. It's all in the details, as they say, but I would add that it's an affair of the heart because when there is love in and for a house, that is when it's a home (and a beautiful on at that)!

    The happiest wishes for a wonderful day of thanks!

  43. So many wonderful details...adore the antlers, the small paintings and the fabulous chandelier...great touches!!

  44. Oh, you make my heart swoon. It's perfect!! Just perfect.

  45. Wow! this bathroom is amazing, I love every single detail!!! You really did an amazing job! Also i want to invite you to my Shabby Apple giveaway...they are offering a wonderful dress!
    Hugs from Italy!

  46. As always, a perfect combination of rustic and elegance.

  47. Just found your blog, and read through all your bathroom posts! LOVE what you did with the vanity and the walls, and... all of it! Great job!

  48. Joan, Dan, and Ella: I LOVE this entry and all of your detail. Thank you for sharing! I cannot tell you how many times I have viewed these pictures. Cindy

  49. I love when you said that you are open to changing things the mirrors. I do the same thing...ponder over it until I think I have it right. So many people think it happens instantly and I always tell them design is a process.....and sometimes it takes a while to come up with the right solution.
    I love the bath and all of your attention to detail really payed off.

  50. Wow... This is absolutely beautiful! We are building currently, and this so has the feel of what I'm going for. ~swoon~

  51. I missed this first time round. I just LOVE this charming powder room!! So many thoughtful details - it just oozes rustic chic!!

  52. Dang, this bathroom is so, so good.
    I love that it has a bit of edge to it. Know what I mean?
    Love the color of the vanity.

  53. This is going to sound so weird...but it is in your "Details" post that I am reminded why I LOVE you. Truly you are such a defined person,in your taste and your execution. Only wish I could even slightly have your insight. I have found one other blog I LOVE as much as you...French both style to beat the band. I may have a few wonderful things but I could never put them together like you or her. Hugs and on the Christmas!!!

  54. honeybeeandmeonline.netNovember 29, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    We are wanting to find a place back East, and would love some suggestions???
    I can see what a wonderful job you have done with the
    house you bought....
    Was it hard to move to a small town and how was the transition???
    I would love to find a restored home with at least 40 acres so that my husband can grow crops...
    I am not interested in redoing a house but finding one that I love already done??


  55. You really know how to make country look very minimal. All the attention and love you give to your home is envious. I would love to powder my nose there.

  56. Your blog is lovely. It is one of my favorites. I adore your home and think it is beautiful...

  57. I am trying SO HARD to take my time going through your archives. I just want to savor the newness. It's like when you just KNOW you are watching a great movie or reading a great's a little, tiny bit sad because you can never see/read it again for the first time.

    I am so happy to have found your blog at the same time time we moved into our first home :-) My Grandpa designed and built this house in 1947, and my hubby and I are it's second owners! We were lucky to have been gifted a number of my grandparents amazing antiques by my mom and aunts and uncles who were thrilled we were buying the house (or "homestead" as it's been called forever).

    My Grandpa was an engineer, so as we have been moving in over the past three weeks we keep walking around exclaiming "Grandpa/Art was so clever!" or "There is so much storage space! Thanks Grandma/Portia!" Although it is just starting summer, I CANNOT WAIT for fall and the holidays to just go crazy decorating and hosting get-together's!

    Thank you so much for sharing! And don't worry about not knowing what to post about once your house is "done"- you have built up a readership that really likes YOU and Dan and could post what you ate while reading the newspaper and we would just eat it up. Your blog really isn't about the house, you know...:-)

    1. Karen, Thank you! I'm happy you found the blog too! What an exciting time for you... your first house AND it belonged to your grandparents! How happy they would have been to know that you now own the homestead! The house is lucky to have you love it!

  58. Hi! I just found your blog and love your style. We are currently fixing up my husband's grandparent's very old victorian style home. I am smitten with your ironstone soap dishes and would like to acquire my first for a newly renovated bath with a farmhouse style sink. Do you have a favorite shape…oval or rectangular and do you prefer them to have built in ridges to save the soap from getting soggy or do you prefer a plastic soap saver insert like I see in your barn bath? Thanks for the opinion.

    1. I really don't have a favorite, liking both shapes. The built in ridges do a nice job of keeping the soap dry as do the plastic soap savers, again no preference as they both work (I hate soap sitting in water;) I also have ironstone dishes in the kitchen and the upstairs guest bath that you can see in the photos of both spaces.. I love them all for their own personalities and how they work in the respective space (color/shape). Good luck with your renovation!

  59. I love your house! Thank you for giving such detailed descriptions. My question is: I was interested in putting wood floors in my bathrooms but the floor guy said no to wood floors in a bathroom. Do you have any suggestions? How do your floors hold up with the moisture, heat, etc? Any special sealant to use? Thank you!

    1. Wood floors work great in a bathroom- you see them all over the internet now. Don't let anyone talk you out of your vision;) Install a good exhaust fan in the room and I don't know why there would be any problems. The floors hold up perfectly. No, we did not use any special sealer. Contractors often don't like to do things they've never done before, and if you don't stand your ground you'll end up with a house that is the contractors vision and not yours! Good luck.


Welcome! Thank you for leaving a comment; you have no idea how much your comments inspire me to keep writing- I appreciate each and every one. Comments are moderated by me prior to publishing on the blog, so if you don't see your comment post immediately it will be posted as soon as I receive and read it. joan