Brush Up That Clawfoot Tub!

Clawfoot tubs. They are so elegant. And they pretty much always look good when they’re clean and neatly restored. Observe:

blue room clawfoot tub

Photo credit: artnoose / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


Photo credit: Secretly Ironic / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Secretly Ironic / Foter / CC BY


A red clawfoot tub. That’s how you take something classic and put a modern spin on it.

Restoring Clawfoot Tubs

If you buy an old tub and plan to retrofit it into your bathroom, or if you buy an old house with an old tub in it, you might find that the tub is a little scuzzy. But the thing about clawfoot tubs is that they are super easy to restore. Check out this episode of Rehab Addict in which Nicole Curtis uses a wire brush to remove dirt and debris from an old tub, then spray paints it silver and black to create a classy look for a bathroom.

Additionally, this youtube video provides a comprehensive guide for restoring clawfoot tubs, including using steel brushes to clean out the foot brackets.

You should have concluded by now that one of the things you will need, along with spray paint, some good porcelain cleaner, and elbow grease, is a good brush. If you’re lucky enough to have an old fashioned neighborhood hardware store near you, I suggest you high-tail it over there and ask a knowledgeable salesperson about brushes for clawfoot tub restoration. Another option is to go online and check out an industrial brush manufacturer and see if you can order the brush you need directly from them.

Beyond White

We usually expect bathtubs to be white but as you can see from the photos above, there are so many other possibilities and opportunities to give your bathroom the look and feel you want. And I think clawfoot tubs are unique in that they are versatile enough to have dragons painted on them. Do you think that would work on a square acrylic tub? I sure don’t.

Missing Feet

If your clawfoot tub is teetering on three legs, don’t stress. Spare clawfeet are everywhere. Your local salvage store should have a selection. And if it doesn’t, you can find what you need on sites like Ebay or Be sure to brush the feet smooth, spray them with primer, and then cover them in whatever color you fancy.

Original is Beautiful, but New is Good Too

Just like Nicole Curtis, I’m a stickler for original. If a house was built in 1900, the railings, windows, sconces and floors from 1900. If it’s a mid-century modern, it should have a wood-paneled basement bar. And if it is a 13th century castle…it should be cold and draughty and have weeds growing out of the roof.

Original does look best. But there are times when new is necessary. Such as:

Drop ceilings: It’s a tragedy when crown moldings and medallions get hidden by drop ceilings. But in old apartment buildings where there isn’t sound-proofing, modern amenities — such as stereo systems with loud subwoofers — can cause real problems. Without sound-proofing, you might come home every day to your neighbor’s pounding bass. Sacrificing the original ceiling for a drop ceiling that will dampen the thump can really improve your quality of life.

Appliances: I love a vintage Wedgewood stove. And it looks cool when you have a 1900s stove in a 1900 house. But your health safety have to come first, and modern stoves are designed to be clean and safe. Antique ice boxes are cool too, but if you get one, use it for more decorative purposes, not for all of your refrigeration. A sub-zero might not be period, but if you can afford a sub-zero, get one.

antique stove

Energy: Nobody talked about climate change in 1900, because there weren’t cars and people hadn’t burned gallons upon gallons on fossil fuels. That’s not to say that people then were concerned about the environment. I’d be that Victorians were far worse litterbugs than you’ll ever see today. Still, there was not climate change then, and therefore no movement toward green technology, and so Victorian homes did not have solar panels on the roof. But that should not discourage you from putting solar panels on your Victorian home, if you are striving to reduce your carbon footprint and can afford solar panels.

Are the other examples where it makes sense to sacrifice an original feature for a modern innovation? Let me know in the comment section!

Hidden Springs Inn: Turret Trouble

Wouldn’t you know it. The Hidden Springs Inn is days away from opening. Or it was, until the inspector came by and said the Inn couldn’t open because the turret was leaning. I got a panicked call from my friend after the inspector left. Then her panic turned into the riot act. Somehow she thought the leaning turret was my fault. I told her I’m a remodeler, not an architect, and I didn’t think the turret was leaning. But the inspector saw something I didn’t. That happens.

Anyway, we got on the horn and called a contractor to come and stabilize the thing. He said it was only slightly leaning — as in barely leaning at all — but the inspector is known to be kind of a stickler. Problem is, the contractor got to work on the thing, and suddenly discovered all kinds of problems…aaaaaand now the turret is being rebuilt.

I’m telling you, this project started out fun, but now I’m getting ready to retire from remodeling altogether! Or a least go back to re-tiling backsplashes. I’m too old to be Nicole Curtis, dammit! One the turret is fixed, the inn will be able to open, but my friend is already way over budget and she’s calling me asking me if I think she should sell. And I tell her that I’m not a business woman and she should ask somebody else. Oy, what a project.

That’s why, when my granddaughter called to talk me into taking a vacation, she didn’t have to talk very long! I’m heading to San Diego and I booked myself a week in the Hotel Del Coronado. Look at them turrets!

Nifty Fifties! Check Out this Time Capsule!

This is nifty! A 96 year old Toronto woman is selling her house and every inch of it is covered in 50s decor! You have to check out these photos. You have to admit, that basement bar looks like a great place to hang out!

A note about period decor:

All of those pieces in that house would look very dated on their own, but together, the whole thing just works. That is to say: if you’re gonna go vintage, go all the way. Got mid-century chaise lounge? Make your couch and chairs mid-century too, and get a vintage record player to go with it. Going Victorian? Don’t stop with the drapes. Get some bold Victorian wallpaper to go with it. Thinking of trying out a 1990s look? Well, don’t.

My point is, this house has a lot of stuff that would not work in anyone else’s house, but because it’s all from the same period and so well preserved, well, it works.

Nicole Curtis is my Spirit Animal

I just came across some interviews with Nicole Curtis, the heroine of “Rehab Addict” fame. I love her show, for obvious reasons. But when I saw that she loves anything Art Deco/Old Hollywood glamour, I thought, yes! Art Deco is the best. Well, Art Deco, Beaux Arts, Victoriana…oh and some mid-century stuff.

Why did architecture and design get so ugly in the 70s, 80s and 90s? People became obsessed with convenience, I guess. That’s why Nicole is constantly ripping linoleum off of original hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are hard to take care of, but vinyl is easy and doesn’t require as much effort. So if you don’t give a sh*t about what your house looks like, slap some vinyl over that pretty oak. Sigh.

Anyway, read more of what Nicole has to say here:


AZ Central

Aluminum Mullions for a Modern Look

Want to create a modern look and feel in your house? Knock out an exterior wall and replace it with glass an aluminum mullions. Like this.

Aluminum is a good option for mullions because it’s a long-lasting material. It also has a very sleek appearance and has consistent quality. There are a variety of finishes that can be applied to aluminum. Mullions are made through a process called aluminum extrusion, which is really just a fancy way of saying that heated aluminum gets pushed through a steel die. It’s kinda like the Play D’Oh factory.

Aluminum is very versatile, which means you can use aluminum mullions to create just about any look you want. Like this one:

Photo credit: Skazama / Foter / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Skazama / Foter / CC BY-ND

(The one in the picture is probably wooden, but you can still create this same look with an aluminum one.)

Mullions of Antiquity

Aluminum mullions are neat, but Gothic and Elizabethan mullions are much more interesting. Wouldn’t you love to have these on your house (or Cornwall estate?) Can’t you just hear Lawrence Olivier saying, “That’s not the northern lights. That’s Manderley!”? (I need to watch that movie again soon. And if you don’t know, the movie I refer to isĀ Rebecca.)

gothic mullion

Photo credit: Lammyman / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

You could actually recreate this look with aluminum too, since aluminum can take really complex shapes and intricate designs. But, frankly, if you’re going to have windows like this, they should be stone. Some things shouldn’t change.

Help, I’m Hooked on HGTV

My granddaughter insists it’s a crime that I don’t have my own TV show, like that woman in Minneapolis who remodels all those houses. I told her, as much as I love remodeling, I would never want to do what that woman does. She buys old houses, restores them and sells them. Often, she owns several properties at once and had to sell her own home to cover the costs of a mansion that she had restored but had not yet found a buyer for. YIKES is all I have to say about that. If someone else bought and sold the homes, and all I had to do was make them look better, then I would be on board.

But, oh, to be on TV!

There was a time when I fancied going to Los Angeles and trying my hand at acting. That was a very long time ago.

Now, I just settle for watching other people on TV, doing things that I think are fun. But I’m curious. Do you watch remodeling shows too? I want to know which one is your favorite!


There are so many TV shows about remodeling, and I'm hooked on them all! I'm curious to know: which remodeling TV show is your favorite? Vote!
Rehab Addict
2 Vote
0 Vote
Fixer Upper
0 Vote
Property Brothers
0 Vote
Flip or Flop
0 Vote

Soft Close Hinges

What’s more annoying than banging cabinet doors? Well, lots of things, but cabinet doors that shut with a loud clack! are nuisance to be sure.

Recently, my nephew asked me to help him out with his cabinets. I don’t mind telling you that they were a disaster. The cabinets were old and he’d made many improvised repairs to them. He replaced a lot of the original fasteners with heavy duty screws and rivet nuts — these fasteners are great for sheet metal (which is what my nephew works with) but for a kitchen cabinet? Not so much. He even repaired a broken hinge with a zip tie. When I saw the state of the cabinets, I couldn’t help but sigh.

I said to my nephew, “We’re going to take all these down and redo everything.” We took the cabinet doors down, sanded them, and replaced the heavy duty fasteners with screws that were made for cabinetry and new knobs. We also replaced all of the hinges with soft close hinges.

Soft close hinges prevent cabinet doors from banging, which for some people is very annoying. In my nephew’s case, I figured that soft close hinges would help extend the life of the cabinets — I figured that the cabinets were in such bad shape in part because my nephew was always banging them shut. After a while, all that jarring can loosen the fasteners. Anyway, the cabinets look a lot better now, and they don’t make noise when we close them. It’s a vast improvement.

Soft close hinges are super easy to install — you certainly do not need to take your cabinets down to install them. You can add soft close dampers to any existing cabinetry without changing out the rest of the hardware. It will take you an afternoon to install them, tops. And then you can watch TV and not be bothered by the sound of cabinets slamming when your kids are rooting around fro snacks. Win, win!

For Reference: Victoriana Magazine

My oh my I have been a busy bee lately! The Hidden Springs Inn passed inspection, but we still have a long way to go before it opens. Furniture, linens, curtains, and all kinds of things still need to be acquired. Rooms need to be decorated. Stationery needs to be chosen. Once we do all that, we can start planning menus, a grand opening, special events…all kinds of good stuff!

That’s why I’m really happy I came across this online magazine called Victoriana. It’s a super handy reference guide to all things Victorian, which will really help a lot when we have to decide what kind of ferns we should buy for the rooms, or what kind of cakes we should serve for high tea.

My friend, who purchased the Inn and drafted me to help renovate it, is toying with the idea of having Downton Abbey viewing parties as a way of attracting new clientele to the property. I’m behind this idea, and thankfully, Victoriana has a ton of Downton Abbey stuff in it. So we should be good to go!

I’m really excited to be done with this project. It’s been a lot of fun — a lot! But I’m ready to see the finished product. And to have time to watch “Judge Judy” in the day time again.

How to Get Fireplaces Working Again

restored fire place

Seriously. How gorgeous did we make that look?! Photo credit: slimmer_jimmer / iW / CC BY-NC-ND

A friend of mine recently decided he wanted to get the old fireplace in his living room working again. The previous owners retrofitted it with a fake one (the kind behind glass that you turn on with a remote.) He plans to remove it and restore it to its original state as a wood burning stove.

He called me up and wanted to know what to do.

I told him I had no idea, but that I would do my best to help.

So first we set about prying the fake fireplace out — it had been crammed into the recess of the fireplace. It took over two hours and a lot of sweating and lot of swearing, but we finally got the darn thing out. Let’s just say that the installation of the fake fireplace was artless.

After we took out the fake fireplace, we had to re-open the original flue. The flue had been sealed off when the fake one was put in. That wasn’t such a fun job, either. But after we got it done, we got to get down to the fun part: shopping.

We found a new fireplace grate, a screen, and a set of pokers. We also looked for new tiles to place around the fireplace. The house was built in 1899, so we found some lovely Victorian tiles – I’ve become an expert on Victorian-era decor!

We put the new tiles around the fireplace, and lit a fire. It was wonderful to sit around a REAL, crackling fire. So much better than a phony one. We even opened the screen and made s’mores!

Sorry for the short-ish post today. The inspector is coming to Hidden Springs Inn in a few hours, and we have to make sure everything is in tip-top shape!