Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

The New Guest Bath is Here!

After a 6-month-long renovation, finally, the main floor bath is complete!

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Without looking at the before, the after would have easily been taken for granted:

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Above picture was the old bathroom when we moved in. With bigger fish to fry we continued using this bathroom for 3.5 years. Finally, after renovating the nearby office/guest bedroom, we decided that it was time to refresh the guest bath.

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The biggest change we made in this bathroom was to remove the bulky bathtub and install a walk-in shower.

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We opted for a clear glass shower door similar to what we installed in the master bath,. It is a lot more expensive than using a shower curtain, but it really brought an elevated look to this small guest bath. it made the bathroom look more spacious, and it allowed the textured window to be the focal point of the room. We picked a winter-themed, frost-like pattern for the window way before we picked out the shower door, and now the patterned window looks very intentional through the shower glass!

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The old window sill was slopped in the wrong direction, which led to rot and mold in the old shower. To keep the water at bay, we installed full-length marble sills around the fixed window panel. We also chose to install a shower pan instead of tiling the floor in the shower, so no water will ever get behind the walls.

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Just like in the master bath, we chose to extend the tiles beyond the shower area for a grand look. We picked light-colored marble-like tiles for the walls, which bounce off the light around the room.

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Instead of small subway tiles, which have dominated bathroom walls for decades, we chose rather large tiles for the walls. I think fewer grout lines make the room feel less enclosed, and the marble veins prevent the room from looking like a surgical unit.

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To echo the grey vein we installed a light grey colored vanity, which serves as a soft transition from the near-white walls to the dark floor.

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I always liked bathrooms with big color contrast (see bath inspiration here). In our master bathroom we used white subway tile in the shower and one wall, with big dark tiles on the floor and the other wall. In this bathroom, we used large tiles on the wall with small black tiles on the floor. The floor tile was laid in a geometric pattern, which draws attention to the floor and grounds the room.

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Unlike the master bath where we utilized mostly masculine colors and shapes, the fixtures in this hall bath is more decorative and feminine. We did keep the brushed nickel finish throughout – brushed nickel is a really versatile finish in my opinion. When it was paired with dark cabinet and tiles, as in our master bath, it looks modern and stylish. When used against white tiles in the hall bath, I think it looks more classic and sophisticated.

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The toilet also offers an elegant architectural look.

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Both of the tiling and plumbing contractors did a good job and paid lots of attention to details. I feel really good about the quality of the finish in this bathroom.

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You may notice that we do not have a mirror here yet. Honestly, the biggest struggle in the whole bathroom design process was the mirror. I originally wanted a round mirror, but it ended up looking too trendy for this bathroom. On the other hand, frameless mirrors with integrated LED lighting looked too modern, and rectangular mirror looked too plain…Slav suggested DIYing a mirror and we will give it a try at some point.

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Since the demo last December, Slav has worked many weekends in this small space. Professionals were brought in for window installation, plumbing, tiling, and shower door instllation. Slav took care of everything else, including replacing the rotten framing and subfloor, upgrading electricaladding new ceiling lights, finishing the drywall, and installing the pocket door and door trims. It has been a lots of DIY projects. But it is so worth it!

1. Demolition – removing all the fixtures and wall/floor materials;
2. Assessing the water damage, replacing rotten framing, and mold control;
3. Installing new bath window and insulate the exterior wall;
4. Removing the ceiling drywall from the attic, wiring for new recessed lights from the attic;
5. Upgrading wall electrical, including adding outlets and wiring new switches;
6. Installing a new exhaust fan and recessed lights;
7. Drywall the bathroom ceiling and soundproofing the interior walls;
8. Purchasing a new toilet, a new bidet, a sink/vanity, and sink and shower fixtures;
9. New plumbing and waterlines for bathroom fixtures;
10. Upgrade master bath (basement) exhaust fan from above;
11. Replacing all the subflooring with added support;
12. Pocket door framing and installation;
13. Drywalling around the pocket door;
14. Installing and Waterproofing bathroom walls and floor;
15. Tiling the bathroom and installing a new window stool;
16. Finishing/priming/painting entry wall drywall and ceiling;
17. Installing/painting pocket door trims;
18. Installing vanity light fixture, ceiling can lights, and outlet wall plates/covers;
19. Installing new glass shower door;
20. Installing all plumbing fixtures including toilet/bidet, vanity/sink, and shower trims.

Finally, we can erase the planning board clean, and move onto the next chapter for the ranch house!

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Main Floor Bath: Pocket Door Trims

Hi guys, long time no see! I hope y’all are having a great summer. We are consumed by work once again and our hope for a slow summer did not work out. Instead, someone else is enjoying the summer days for us, roaming around our garden:

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They are actually two different cottontail rabbits. One of them lives under our raspberry bushes, and we are pretty sure that the other one lives behind the shed in the firewood pile. We often see one eating grass on the backyard lawn. But occasionally, we catch them side by side chilling, eating, or even playing together.

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Despite us being very busy, we did manage to finish the main floor bathroom. After installing the tiles, we painted the ceiling and walls,  and Slav installed the lights and outlet in the bathroom. Then, the shower door was installed, and the plumber came and installed all the fixtures. The very last task to wrap up the bathroom renovation was trimming the pocket door.

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Door jamb installation

Prior to installing the pocket door, the door jambs and trims were completely taken down, leaving exposed drywall on the hallway side.

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Since this was our first attempt trimming a pocket door, we purchased a pocket door jamb kit to make the job easier:

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The kit includes a door jamb, a pair of split jamb, and a pair of top trim.

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As per instructions, the door jamb to which the pocket door would be closed against was installed first.

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Then, the split jambs were cut to length and nailed to either side of the pocket door.

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Lastly, the the top trim pieces were cut to length and nailed on to fill the gap between the two door jambs.

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This was the look from the bathroom. We had painted the walls around the doorway prior to the installation.

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Trimming the doorway

After the door jambs were installed, the trim pieces were cut and nailed around the doorway. For the bathroom side of the doorway, we picked a rather simple style of trim.

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Then a piece of baseboard was cut to fill the gap between the tiled wall and the door trim. This baseboard is identical to the ones we installed throughout the basement.

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For the hallway side, we used the same trim installed around the office opening, which is wider and more decorative.

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Patching, Sanding, and painting

Having finished installing the jamb and trim, the pocket door was adjusted to ensure that it was centered between the split door jambs, traveled smoothly, and closed tightly to the door jamb.

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Then, it was time to patch the nail holes with wood filler, caulk the gaps, and paint!

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By the end of a long weekend, we finished trimming the pocket door, which completed the bathroom renovation – what a moment!

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Upgrading the front door trim

However, the trim work did not stop there. Since we had the chop saw and nail gun out, we decided to replace the front door trim too.

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The old door trim around the front door was there when we bought the house. The same trim was installed around all the doors. Since then, we have replaced most of the door trims in the house, and the old trim was now only around the front door, and two small closets.

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Technically, the old door trim had nothing wrong with them, but it was fairly narrow considering the size of the door. Importantly, the front door is right next to the office doorway. The mismatching trims looked a bit odd.

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The old trim was cut away from the wall. It turned out to be the biggest part of this trim work because it was held down by layers of paint and caulking.

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Some caulking remained even after the old trim was peeled off the wall. It had to be scraped off with a razor.

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Since this is an exterior door, all the gaps were filled with the Great stuff.

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After the Great stuff was completely cured, we cut away the excess and touch-painted the wall around the doorway.

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And now, our old front door was ready for its new trim!

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And the new trim there came!

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Next, the gaps were caulked and the nail holes were filled with the wood filler. two coats of Behr Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss, the same paint we used on all of trims and baseboards finished the front door trim work.

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Finally, no more mismatching trims!

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And this is the view from the house now:

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Compared to the old trim (pictured below), the scale of the new trim is more appropriate for the size of the front door.

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Now the main floor bathroom is complete, I cannot wait to show you the pictures. We are so proud of all the finishes we picked for the bathroom, and I think it was stunning! Stay tuned!

4 Years in the Ranch and a Patio Garden Update

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We moved into our ranch house 4 years ago. Four years! We started renovating the house from the day we moved in, and have made it so much better both appearance and functions. Besides the house itself, we also planted lots of trees and perennials, and turned these old weedy yards into beautiful flower beds and edible gardens.

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The most recent improvement of our backyard landscape is the patio garden. There used to be a straight line dividing the lawn space and the raspberry patch. Last Spring, I cut out a curved flower bed at the edge of the raspberry patch, and planted it with peonies:

2020 Fall:

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I am happy to report that all the peonies have come back this Spring! We even got flowers from some of them:

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This is my first time growing flowers with big petals. While I was excited to get flowers, I was so surprised watching peony flowers changing color over time:

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This one flowers coral pink when the flowers first open:

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which fade into a light pink:

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In between the peonies, I planted Russian sage. They are supposed to fill in the space between peonies when the peonies are done flowering, with a sea of purple flowers. They were such baby plants when I put them into the ground last Fall, and did not show up until mid-May, which really got me worried. But now they are getting bigger each day and I know they will be holding up well:

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Behind the patio garden is our raspberry patch, which just explored this year. Not only they came back earlier and grew fuller, they started developing young shoots all around the original plants, expanding into the pathways surrounding the patch.

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One of the varieties has already flowered – we are getting raspberry soon!

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One end of the patio garden reaches all the way to our back patio. It touches the cedar planter I built last year, which houses our strawberries:

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This Spring, I added a pot of wild strawberries at the end of the patio garden. They are supposed to be excellent groundcovers.

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On the other end, the patio garden wraps around the future shed patio, and connects to the flower bed along the back fence. That is how this garden beds got its name – it extends from the back patio to the shed patio! This area will see some disturbance when we build the shed patio, therefore, I did not plant anything precious, but only irises we got for free from a neighbor:

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The picture above was taken last summer, right after planting. And this is how it looks now! All the irises came back and some of them have flowered:

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I did not know the exact variety of these irises when planted them, and happy to see that they flower blue and purple. I have white and light purple irises in the front yard, and these two varieties fit well into my garden color theme. And both of the varieties smelled amazing.

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I also planted an apple tree! It is the only permanent planting I did here (away from the edge of the shed patio). It was very healthy when it arrived last Spring. So I am not surprised that it branched out early this year, and already looks so full in early summer. I think we are gonna see some fruit this year!

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Although I do not plan to put more perennials yet, I am comfortable using this space to grow annuals. This Spring, I interplanted squashes and zucchini among the irises. I raised them from seed myself this Spring, so they are the perfect filler for this area for next to nothing. And they will add some much needed height and color to this space once the irises are done.

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In between the shed patio garden and the raspberry patch is our herb garden! This is the first flower bed we planted, back to 2018, so all the plants have matured and got super big this Spring.

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Tarragon sits at the very tip of this oval garden, then there are oregano, lemon balm, and sage.

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There is also an Egyptian walking onion. I had lots of fun watching it grow and “walk”.

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Apparently, some of other herbs “walk” too! I think it is charming to have a bit lemon balm spilling over onto the pathways. Besides, when I walk on them and crash the leave, it smells amazing.

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We started this flower bed with a garden-in-a-box kit, so there are some flowering plants here too:

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These tall purple stalks are all from one catmint called “walker’s low”. It is seriously the best plant I’ve grown: it stays low, spreads far, flowers all Spring and summer, and it is a true pollinator magnet. There are always bees buzzing around these stalks, and this Spring, two hummingbird moths found it too:

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A mature garden not only has plants, but also inserts, birds, and even mammals. We have noticed bunny dropping in the backyard, and recently, we started to see two cottontail rabbits hanging out in our backyard.

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These two rabbits happily share the backyard with each other, and with the dogs. Amazingly, they do not escape when we walk onto the lawn! I think they have figured out that we mean no harm, so all they do when we got close is to hop away a few feet and watch us. Luckily, they do not touch the vegetable garden or any of my flowers, only eating grass. So there is no reason for us to stop them from coming into the yard either. In fact, I think one of them made a nest behind the garden shed, and the other one lives under the raspberry bushes.

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Recently, we decided to push the kitchen renovation to next year, which is the last big-ticket items on our renovation list. This decision freed us this summer to enjoy the fruit of our labor for the first time. It has been a lot of work during the past four years to get to this point, the point that we allow ourselves to slow down without rushing ourselves, the point that we can put work aside without feeling guilty. Today, at the 4-year-annivesary of our home ownership, I am looking at the work we did, and truly appreciating the comfort and beauty we created together. Happy anniversary, house!

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