Fall One Room Challenge: Week 1

We're renovating, exploring style and design with a dash of cocktail making and cooking thrown in. 

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It’s been over a year since we did a One Room Challenge. I was practically scarred and traumatized by taking on that much work in such a short period of time. It was such a big room, plus we refurnished the whole room. Please send messages of support and lots of coffee, cause we’re gonna need it. I might cry. I don’t know.

We’re renovating a much smaller space, but with more ‘technical’ moving parts. The downstairs bathroom is our only bathroom on the first floor, and the only bathroom with stand up shower. Yes, you heard me right. I would categorize having one stand up shower in a 5,200 sq ft house as old home hell. I feel like a college student living in my own house. But we’re grown ups, I promise! We grab our towels and tromp down stairs to shower, then track back upstairs to go to our master bathroom where all the personal ‘getting ready’ stuff is stored. Imagine how fun this is when we have guests over. Ummmm. No… NO. NO. NO. Too many awkward passings on the staircase – half naked. It’s strange.  

Since day one, I have been dying to renovate this bathroom. But frankly, it’s a huge puzzle and that’s the reason we haven’t done it. Every single thing needs to be touched in the bathroom. I’ll put my long to-do list at the bottom of the post so you can see what we are up against. We also have to figure out where the new shower will go on the second floor. While we are focusing on the downstairs bathroom for the One Room Challenge, you’ll hear us talk about the master bathroom because we need to install a shower to make the house functional. We’ll be taking baths for a few weeks, I’m sure. I’m not complaining, but Will is not thrilled.

Let’s go back in time, to the 1800s. When this house was built, there was no electricity and no indoor plumbing. We think the spot under the stairs was an old servants hallway. There was a swinging door that lead into an odd back corner of the living room. You could easily come and go mostly unnoticed. In the 1950s when Fred and Les owned Stony Ford, they converted this space into a tiny powder room. Checkerboard tile, heavy drapes and yellow paint. Hot for the time. Fast forward 60 years, Fred has passed away and Les can’t do the stairs. His family installs a handicap shower so he can shower without going up and down the stairs. Totally understand.

I’ve always known the shower was a point of necessity for the house. Les put so much into making the house chic, and Fred so much detail into the woodwork. This bathroom was a fast conversion done out of need. We are removing the shower. I can’t see the point of having a shower on the first floor. What gets me even more is that when you are in the hallway and look through the bathroom door, the first thing you see: handicap shower.

When the bathroom was converted, the toilet paper holders were never moved, and guest legit come out of the bathroom and ask why there are two. There’s the two floor and chopped up moulding. Plus, builder grade moulding and a hollow door. I know, I know. Don’t freak out. We already bought a new solid wood door. One of the things I love about this house are the original details, so when something like this bathroom is out of place, it really stands out. Everytime i swing open that hollow core door, my heart aches. I’ll tell you how much we paid for the replacement door and I’m sure you’ll never look at doors the same.

We’d like to chanel the craftsmanship and detail that Les and Fred put into the house and renovate this bathroom by bringing it back to life. We need it to function as a powder room and bathroom, plus I need some storage for down stairs. After living in an apartment for my whole life, living in a house with multiple stories is COMPLICATED. You need multiples of the same thing. It drives me bonkers. I’m going to put some thought into what we need and plan the best supplies cabinet you ever did see. It will be so nice to not run upstairs for a band-aid. Or for Advil.

The only thing we are keeping from the bathroom is the sink. You heard me right, everything else is a gonner. Two styles of mish mash flooring, two toilet paper holders, all gone. And the fiberglass shower, hits the trash pile. We’re also getting a new toilet (you are gonna pass out when you see it!).

Here are the before pictures! Avert your eyes! Next week, I’ll share my design plan and some of the product we’re going to use in the space.

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

House of Brinson Bathroom

You’ll see us working on multiple bathrooms at once. It’s going to be confusing. We are hyper focused on this bathroom for the ORC because it’s our main floor bathroom, where as our master bath we can be a bit leisurely about completing. If we have time and it makes sense, you’ll see us interweaving work to save time and plan for maximum efficiency. I’ll post before and afters of the master bath after the ORC.

If you’re not already, follow us on Instagram. I share our daily life on Stories and the complete behind the scenes.


To-Do List
(in no particular order)

– Get new tile floor
– Install new sub floor
– Install floor
– Find replacement door, solid wood from salvage
Look into ordering new wood paneling
Install wood paneling
Gut space
Move toilet
Get new toilet
Get new faucet
Install new faucet
Get new under sink pipes that match sink, brass
Recase window
Recase door
Install new door hardware
Find antique cabinet for corner
Order wall paper
Wall paper ceiling
Wallpaper walls
Wallpaper ceiling
Find new mirror
Hang new mirror
Get new toilet paper holder
Get curtain rods
Make new curtains
Pick paint color
Order paint
Get new sconces
Get new ceiling fixture (check third floor for vintage one)
Install lighting
Source art for space (check storage cabinet)
Style new cabinet
Get new hand towels
Consider vintage rug for winter
Take out radiator
Paint radiator
– Strip and paint door
Install all new hardware
Install new door hardware (knob and hinges)

Is that it? Did I miss anything. I think about this list around 3:00 am. Be sure to check out the other bloggers doing the ORC. Link list below. 


At Home with Ashley | Brepurposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Vestige Home

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | SMP Living

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

House of Brinson Bathroom

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  1. Emma says:

    That sink is AMAZING. So happy you’re keeping it (though why would you ever get rid of that beautiful old girl??).

    Sending you positive reno vibes – I know you’ll create something truly fantastic!

  2. Erin says:

    Susan, hi! Huge fan of yours, before stony ford but especially so seeing what you’ve done with that gorgeous house. Actually learned about retro modern antiques from you and am forever indebted. We bought a farmhouse outside Port Jervis that I renovated last spring and got an awesome walnut dresser from Marty. Anyways… question: did you ever consider flipping the shower wall? It looks like you’d still be able to clear the door and put a storage piece in front of it. The shower could be accessed from across the sink. I’m guessing at the end of the day, it wasn’t worth the investment if you don’t plan to use it much? Would love to know your thinking on that. Good luck!! Can’t wait to see where you guys end up both upstairs and down!

    • Thank you so much for all your kind words! That’s wonderful – I hear Port Jervis is really turning a corner. Good area to buy right now. We didn’t consider flipping the shower wall because showering on the first floor is, well, strange. It’s very dorm-esque. I’d also have to admit it’s a fully functioning bathroom and put towels, etc rather than just a powder room. But I think walking downstairs half naked and then picking up after ourselves because it’s a downstairs bathroom was the reason we didn’t want to keep the shower. Good question! 🙂

  3. Elizabeth says:

    WOW! This is a big job in a little space but I am sure it will be wonderful. That sink is fabulous!

  4. Albertina says:

    I’m so happy you are doing this bathroom because I can tell it will make a huge difference. So glad you are keeping that stunning sink. I loved learning all the history behind this bathroom…makes the transformation all the more interesting. I can’t wait to see the progress next week!

  5. Friend! This is gonna be good! Like, seriously good. I cannot wait to see how this space transforms. And Im sending you all the happy bathroom reno vibes babe. Im right there with ya!

  6. Feather abd Field says:

    I can’t wait to see the finished bathroom, I love bathrooms and the original sink you’re keeping ! Very excited for your new project!


  7. Lori says:

    Yes, of course you’re keeping that sink & how come you did not post a big ol photo of that beautiful brass spiral pipe below?! (p-trap)?Looking forward to following you guys along your journey! Sending positive vibes your way!

  8. I think this may be the room I’m most excited about this season. Can’t wait to see you kill this space!

  9. Haley says:

    So one food for thought about keeping the shower is if either of you ever can’t do the stairs. You may really want it then 🙂 just an idea.Excited to see how this goes.

  10. That sink! I cannot wait to see your week six bathroom. It is going to be gorgeous. We are doing a bathroom as guest participants, and we’ve got a special sink too. Everything else? Not so much. 🙂

  11. OH my gosh that sink! So amazing. Can’t wait to see your plans!

  12. I cannot wait to see the transformation. This will be an exciting 6 weeks for us all!

  13. I have a 1905 house so your close-ups of the weird trim- I can sure relate to! This bathroom will be amazing!!! It’ll be so fun to follow along with!

  14. LOVE that sink, and actually I love the checkerboard floor too. I actually found your blog when you did the last ORC, so I’m excited to follow along from the beginning on this one! My husband and I are contemplating buying an old house to fix up at some point in the future, and your post about buying an old house was SO helpful!!

    Sarah | all in the details

  15. Sheila says:

    I understand the need for an second floor shower but very much appreciate having a full bath on the first floor for house guests or family members who may be temporarily incapacitated and unable to manage the stairs. One can always make up a temporary bed somewhere but if there’s no full bath, you’re out of luck.
    When my mom reached an age where stairs were painful, she could no longer visit me for that reason so I made sure my next home had a full bath on the first floor and I’ll never buy a house that lacks that feature.

  16. Pam says:

    LOVE that sink. So glad you’re keeping it. I followed you when you did the ORC on your bedroom & fell in love. So bold & brave! Cannot wait to see what magic you do this time.

  17. Linda says:

    I know you will be so happy to have this behind you. Hang in there.

  18. Christine says:

    What beautiful bones that house must have! Love those stairs- can’t wait to see how the bathroom turns out. Following along on this lovely nerve wracking journey!

  19. S@sha says:

    Seriously, that’s the nicest p-trap I’ve ever seen. And I agree, if there are no bedrooms on the first floor than there is no need for a bathroom with a shower, unless it’s a mudroom situation and someone has a dirty job and/or you need a dog shower so the mess isn’t trekked through the house. Looking forward to the ORC!

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