Bohomeownership B&A Bonanza, Part II

My mudroom in one of its many incarnations: Here, overwintering the lavender and Tahitian Bridal Veil.

I want to kiss the inventor of The Mudroom hard on the mouth. How I ever lived without one is a mystery. In my childhood and most of my adult life dwellings, you simply walked into or out of the front door, and hopefully there was a table where you could put your crap and a place on the floor for shoes, perhaps a mat. I remember sitting on steps to put on footwear, and looking for my keys or books or homework in any number of nooks and crannies where they may have been stashed. The person who thought to dedicate an entire room to these activities is a genius.

Sadly, no "before" photos of my mudroom exist to my knowledge. As you might guess after seeing  my other "before" photos, this was a sad little space, with the requisite broken Venetian blinds and off-track sliding doors to canning shelves, and stucco walls slathered in what shall be henceforth known as The Color We Do Not Speak Of (see rant in previous blog post). It had a slate floor and the windows provided a lot of light.


My mudroom after "Jennification": Medicinals hang from ceiling; red velvet curtain covers canning shelves that now house tools, paint and mosaic supplies; shoe rack in corner; coat hooks for out of season coats; shelf and purse hooks for your vintage beaded purse collection; special antique crates to house cowboy boots; in-season coat rack opposite purse hooks, seen in mirror; table to put crap on; lamp always on at night to ward off Bad Guys; fancy stool on which to place foot for ease of boot-and-shoe tying; birdcage.


The mudroom right now: basket for Buster's toys and chewies; bench of my dreams with top secret hiding place for Chucks and garden boots.


The front door; towel hook for drying cats and dogs on rainy days; bunny doorstop; vintage potato crate to store gloves, dog coats and spare leashes.

I agree with the three remaining Shakers that a space needs not only to be utilitarian, but beautiful, as well. This applies especially to the first room one sees upon entering a dwelling. It sets the tone for the rest of the house; it needs to captivate, to make the visitor want more, like an intro to a song or a blog article. I could easily dedicate an entire post to this room alone.


A Mudroom Haiku (or Lune)

O, mudroom

Thy welcoming fold

Warmeth toes


The Kitchen
When you walk into my cottage, you make a right from the mudroom into the kitchen. This was my first view, from the doorway between the mudroom and kitchen:

*heart sinks*

The nook above the sink will one day be a window. The light fixture is the one that started it all, when I decided to "purty it up" with some crystal prisms.

The floor was fairly tasteful, I thought, but dark, and the counter tops were in a matching green marble formica. The cabinets, also formica, were in a dark brown with black "woodgrain", and the wall opposite was dark brownish red concrete molded to look like brick. In a room with only one window, no amount of The Color We Do Not Speak Of will lighten that up. It was decidedly a man's kitchen, and Donnie, I'm told, was a masculine guy. This would never do. The kitchens of my memory were bright and warm with women's talk and winter smells and patterned wallpaper and incandescent lighting. Pots, pans and cooking utensils hung from the ceilings, and there was usually a stromboli on the counter for us kids to snack on when we came in from playing.


Fun Fact:   My first boyfriend came from a big, affectionate family, and on Sundays, just in time for football, the men retired to the family room to sit on their duffs and watch the game while the women cleared the table and went to the kitchen without complaint. "How oppressive!" thought my 14-year-old-feminist-self. "Why don't they protest??" I would teach by example. I would stay in the room with the men watching the sportsing. After a couple Sundays of mind-numbing sporedom, I couldn't take it anymore. I went to the kitchen to enlighten the downtrodden.

 Sweet Mother of Jehoshaphat, what had I been missing?! It was like a different world in there, abuzz with laughter and silver-on-china music and the special sherry that was saved for "cleaning up", and exclamations lowered to whispers so the men couldn't hear about everyone and everything, often them. I learned a lot about my Frankie from the Sunday kitchen. Warm with women's talk.


So I needed to brighten up this kitchen. Nothing a little paint and some fabric couldn't fix. And temporary, light colored floor tiles. And rugs so Buster won't slip. And new reproduction glass hardware. And a dozen chandeliers. And some mosaic.


See future blog post for wall mosaic how-to.


Curtains made from bed sheets found at thrift store; red reproduction glass cabinet pulls from somewhere on the internet; paint colors: Sherwin-Williams Jersey Cream and Tantalizing Teal, antiqued with brown glaze so as to bamboozle the masses.


My former boyfriend Mike's friend, Dave: "Your countertop reminds me of the Philly slum."

Me, without sarcasm: "Thanks! That's just what I was going for!"

The kitchen floor is in the process of being replaced with amazing gold tumbled travertine 4"x4" tiles. "How-to" blog post imminent.


The Bathroom


I know. But just wait.

 The bathroom was pretty cute. Donnie had put in cottage-style cabinets and tiled the entire room. It had the same formica sink surround as the counter in the kitchen, but I could live with it for a while. The shower tile, however, was caving in, one by one, and there was always water on the floor around the toilet. Brown water. And that could mean only one horrific thing: the brown wax ring that secures the toilet to its plumbing was dissolving, a common issue after several years. It would need to be replaced. The floor tiles were coming up from all the moisture, so my former beloved, Mike, and I decided we would tear out the shower surround and the floor after installing the new wax ring.

Tasty Tip:   Rather than follow the installation directions for pushing the toilet onto the ring and checking to see that it's flush (see what I did there?) with the pipe going into the floor, mold it by hand all the way around the bottom, as with clay, to seal it.

  Demolition was, to use Mike's word, satisfying. We put the hardibacker in around the tub, not too difficult a task for two people, and I got the bright idea that I would mosaic the entire surround, with hand painted, hand-cut tiles! I would use all the leftover white ceramic 4"x4" ones I'd found in the shed and do it myself! It would be awesome! It took two weeks of working every day, all day.  Two weeks of sponge baths. I regret nothing:


Branch hooks are for washcloths.



Ah, what the heck - may as well do the front, too.

Fun Fact:  While removing the old 4"x4" white tile tub front, I discovered there was nothing under the tub but earth.The sub flooring ended at the tub. I also discovered an empty Stroh's can.

We bought those wonderful 12"x12" mesh-backed penny tile sheets at one of the big box stores, and since the bathroom is so tiny,  we knocked it out in an hour. We even had some left over with which to mosaic the sink surround when we put in the new sink:




The Stairs

Not a lot to say, here. They were carpeted in the usual Renter's Brown when I moved in. After my 24-year-old cat, Jack, died, we removed the stairway carpet where Jack had, um, made his bladder condition known, to discover the original coal company house stairs. That is to say, solid wood but with huge gaps and holes, held together with hand-hewn square nails. We also found what I hope was a steak bone in the earth under the stairs.


New stairs. I bought the standard-sized runner at

The swell little vintage copper hinges I scored on ebay.



 To compensate for the disappointment my readers must surely feel at the lack of before and after photos of the stairs, I'm instead posting before and afters of Jack:


Miss you, sweet fella.


Stay tuned for more B&A Bonanza as we tour the garden in two weeks! I'll also be providing organic gardening and English Rose Care tips.




1 comment

  • You had me at ‘stromboli’
    Ok, maybe earlier


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published