Friday, July 11, 2014

1920's Inspired Guest Bath

In our home, we have a space that our realtor referred to as a "FROG, " finished room over garage.  In our "FROG" we have an office/guest bedroom and adjoining bathroom.  When we bought our house, we liked the attic feel of these rooms, with slanted ceilings,
dormers, and window seats.

However, the bathroom desperately needed to be updated, especially after learning about extensive mold behind the shower wall.  We decided to select simple materials that could be found at our local home improvement and retail stores, and stay within a realistic budget, so we can save our cash for a dream master bath reno down the road.  We wanted to use simple, classic materials that could have been used in American homes of the 20's and 30's, understated, timeless.

We actually remodeled this bath almost two years ago,
but as it often goes, all the little finishing details were only completed recently!

Here is our vision of a 1920's inspired vintage bath for our guest room...

I had to throw in some peonies, which were blooming at the time I took these photos.
Normally, we don't have such lush flowers waiting to be knocked off the sink!

This American Standard sink has a profile which is great for holding curling irons, makeup bags, shaving supplies, etc.

Over the years, I've collected odd, cupless saucers for use as soap dishes.  The indented ring where the cup usually sits makes it easier to pick up a bar of soap.

I made the shower curtain from a flat queen-sized ticking sheet.  I cut it to match the size of the liner curtain.  I reinforced the grommet area, above, by sewing canvas tape on the back side.  You can see the hem below, which is normally the part at the head of the bed.

We considered a custom tiled shower floor vs. a fiberglass pan.  In order to stay on budget, our contractor recommended an Onyx shower pan.  It's a solid surface material, available in several colors, and the gray color we chose ties in well with the gray grout color and soft gray walls.  We love it, and it turns out to be a local Kansas made product.  Made in the that.  Also good, is that it's easy to clean!

This niche next to the shower used to have old plywood shelves.  We had drawers made to hold everything guests might need...a hair dryer, toiletries, towels and toilet paper.

Hex knobs + hex tiles <3 <3 <3

One of my favorite, and simplest, details is the wide marble threshold that bridges the tile to the hardwood floor in the guest room.  I plan to add the same detail to the master bath in the future.

There is a small closet immediately to the right when you enter the bath.  I haven't decided yet, 
but I might still paint the doors white?

And here is what we started with...

There was sooo much mold behind that old shower gross!

The vinyl flooring was curling up at the edges...

This dark corner had cheap plywood shelves where the built-in drawers are now.

We were so fortunate to have help from a young and talented contractor who enjoys working in older homes, so he had a lot of great ideas to make things look more vintage. 

We love the end result.  In hindsight, the only thing I would do differently would be to skim coat the ceiling and slanted walls.  They have a "knock-down" texture and I think the smoother skim coated surface would look a little more vintage...but that can always be done when it's time to paint again.  
Or not.  Sometimes you gotta know when to stop.  If I had skim coated this room, then I would have probably wanted to skim coat the whole house!

 We have a lot of projects to do in this house, so it's a nice feeling to check this one off the list!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cafe Demel...and the Spanish Riding School

On our third and final day in Vienna, we had breakfast at Cafe Demel.  We tried the famous 
Sacher Torte (very good) and a pretty fruit yogurt parfait (also very good).  I had a Viennese Melange, which is similar to a Cappuccino.  The day before, we also tried the Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel with my husband's brother's family, who came in from Munich.  I can't believe that we were so busy talking that we forgot to take pictures =(

We sat in the back of the cafe, near a wall of glass, and watched goodies being prepared, such as the huge apple strudels above.

The waitress said the more famous treats are prepared here, such as the Sacher Tortes and Apple Strudels, while the other baked goods are made in a separate kitchen.  It was fun to watch how fast they could whip up such perfect and thinly rolled out strudels!

Next, we went to our daughter's choice of what she most wanted to visit...
the Spanish Riding School.
Our son had picked the hedge mazes at Schonbrunn Palace the day before.

The fanciest horse arena we've ever seen!

This is a traditional school for Lipizzan horses, which were formerly used in the imperial court.  With classical training in dressage, the school is also a tourist attraction, allowing visitors to watch the morning exercises of these famous horses.  We actually had the opportunity to see them perform in KC a few years ago when they were on tour.  They perform with amazing precision and can jump incredible heights.  Photos were not allowed inside, so the one above is a real quick phone pic of them just starting to walk and warm up.

After we left the arena, we walked around to the back courtyard to get a glimpse of the horse stalls, and encountered the one female rider we had just seen riding.  She very graciously stopped for a photo with our daughter, who was absolutely thrilled!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Imperial Vienna/Schönbrunn Palace & Hofburg Palace

Schönbrunn Palace...the summer house!

On our recent trip to Vienna, we asked the kids to each pick one thing they wanted to do most, since we only had just under three days in the city, before traveling to see family in Budapest.

Our son wanted to visit the hedge mazes at Schönbrunn Palace, and I have to admit, I really wanted to as well!  So on our second day in Vienna, a very rainy one, we headed to the summer residence of the former imperial family, the Schönbrunn, and toured the interiors and gardens in the morning and then spent the afternoon at Hofburg Palace, the main residence.

Photos were not allowed inside either palace, but we were able to get a few shots outside, in between rain showers, at the Schönbrunn.  The palace interiors were opulent and FUN to tour, while having a glimpse into the history that took place within.  A bit of American history included Kennedy meeting Khrushchev in the summer palace in 1961. And for a china and silver addict like me, it was unreal the vast amount of dishes it takes to run a palace!  But we most enjoyed watching the kids run and laugh in the mazes and beautiful gardens. 


Hofburg Palace...the main house...not too shabby either!

Three things are certain...I'm very grateful to have been able to visit such a lovely city, the gardens at Schönbrunn Palace are a sanctuary, rain or shine, and Vienna is an easy city to fall in love with!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Clear as Mud...Memorial Weekend Horse Show

She was cantering along, minding her own business.  The arena was a muddy soup bowl from scattered showers all morning.  Her horse stepped in a hole and faltered a bit.  She was thrown forward to the side of his neck while the horse kept on moving.  Mightily as she tried to hold on and pull herself back up into the saddle, she laughed a little, knowing that mud was her ultimate destination, and simply let go!  Even though she was covered in mud from head to toe, and was disqualified from this particular class, she had great perspective
for a not-quite 13 year old, and got right back in the saddle.

 This young girl of mine, with her kind and gentle spirit towards animals, as well as people,
her patience and determination, and her ability to see the humor in life,
inspires me and fills my heart to overflowing.  <3

Peonies From the Garden on Memorial Day

The Peonies are blooming this Memorial Day...

The dark pink, I think, is a variety called Kansas.  The light pink was planted about three years ago and is called Chestine Gowdy.  It is an old variety named after a teacher of a one-room schoolhouse.  It is like a very fragrant old rose. 

Peonies became popular in Midwestern gardens
 out of need for a pretty cut flower for Memorial Day...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our First Day in Vienna

We arrived in Vienna on the morning of April 14th, tired and without our hotel room available until 3:00 that afternoon.  After we left our luggage at the hotel, we decided to start walking around and try to shake off some of the jet lag. 

Nearby was the Naschmarkt.  This is Vienna's best known market.
It's open air and has about 120 stalls and restaurants Mon-Sat.

We found a table and ordered sandwiches for the kids.  They were such troopers.  They donned their sneakers and were game to start exploring the city!

White asparagus bigger than my thumbs.

One of several delis.

The postman taking a lunch break...and then pushing his mail cart through the market.

A large selection of olives.

One of the things my husband misses most about Europe...a wide variety 
of affordable, artisanal cheeses.

Spices, teas and nuts.

Sausages and fresh kraut.

Fresh herbs and flowers.

An overhead shot (via Vienna Tourism) of part of the market.

Eventually, we came across Cafe Museum, and stopped for coffee and cake.  Per the cafe's website,

"Since its inauguration in 1899 it has been a meeting point for painters such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, writers such as Joseph Roth, Karl Kraus, Georg Trakl, Elias Canetti, Hermann Broch, Robert Musil and Leo Perutz. Even famous composers such as Alban Berg and Franz Lehar were also regulars at the café as well as architects such as Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos."

We sadly didn't take any photos inside this classic coffee house...I'm sure the jet lag was setting in pretty heavy about then.  Since this blog is my scrapbook, I've posted a few googled photos to remember what it looked like...

Cafe Museum via:

photo from the Cafe Museum menu
 We sat in one of the window seats, on a red banquette.

And had coffee and cake served the wonderful European way...
real porcelain, on a silver tray, with water.

We were all getting pretty tired by the afternoon and decided to buy 24-hour tickets for the 
"Hop On/Hop Off" tour bus and get an overview of part of the city in the comfort of 
plush seats and an audio tour.

I think we made this particular loop around the city at least three times, and not always awake...we all dozed at some point!  The bus became our "mobile hotel room" until we could get checked into our actual hotel.

Top of the Opera House

At one point, with our energy rebounding, we hopped off at Stephansdom, or, St. Stephans Cathedral, on the Stephansplatz.  This is the Roman Catholic seat of the Archbishop of Vienna.  Ground was broken in 1137 and the cathedral was completed in 1160.

Mozart's wedding and funeral both took place here.

St. Stephans Cathedral

Illustration of St. Stephans and the South Tower via: Wikipedia
St. Stephans Cathedral, Vienna
We walked up all 343 narrow spiral steps of the south tower.  
Maybe that worked off the cake from earlier in the afternoon?

At the top of the tower, there was a view of the tiled roof and the dome of the north tower.

Flowers for sale near the cathedral.

And on the way to the hotel, we stopped at a small restaurant off the beaten path, recommended by a local, to have Wiener Schnitzel and locally brewed beer for dinner.  

Catnaps and all, I think we managed to see all the sites the bus stopped at, although not necessarily all on the same loop!  There were 3 or 4 routes to choose from, but we hopped on the line that took us to the State Opera, the Imperial Palace, Parliament and the National Theater.  It was just what we needed when we were too tired to walk another step!

*All photos are mine, unless otherwise credited.