Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Propagate a Pothos

Many, many years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) and I purchased a houseplant for my condo.  It was similar to plants I looked at everyday at work - a Pothos, also called a devil's ivy or variegated philodendrum.  It's latin name is Epipremnum aureum and it grows vines with leaves that are either bright green or variegated in white, yellow or paler green.  Every office space I ever worked in featured these green plants sitting atop the rows and rows of file cabinets.  Pothos are one of the best houseplants for purifying air and are able to thrive in lower light.  No wonder it's a popular office plant! 
Petey hanging in the bathroom of our first house.
We were hopeful that we would keep our pothos alive.  He (we named him Petey) did stay alive.  In fact, he thrived.  Years later, I read that pothos are nearly indestructible, making them ideal for busy, non-plant people and those with black thumbs.  Ha.  Clearly it was not just my hidden gardening abilities that kept him around.

Over the years, we've propagated Petey (and his offspring) hundreds of times.  Propagating pothos is so easy that I've never needed to purchase another one outright. Keep reading to see how you can propagate your own pothos too.

How to Propogate a Pothos
  • A healthy pothos with several inches of vine
  • Cup, glass, or small vase
  • Water
  • Scissors or small garden snips
General How To:
  • Locate a vine on the healthy pothos with a section at least 4-5 inches and containing at least 2-3 healthy leaves.
Healthy vine ready to propagate
  • Cut just below the root node using snips or scissors.
    Note:  Root nodes are little brown bumps below each leaf.  This is where the new root system forms.
Root Node on pothos vine
  • Remove the bottom leaf and place the cutting in a cup, glass or vase.  Pour enough clean water to cover stems and root nodes.  Add liquid fertilizer if you want.
    Note:  Do not submerge any leaves.
  • Keep cuttings in a bright location, out of direct sunlight and add water as needed.
    Result:  The cutting will sprout a root in about a week or so.
Pothos clippings sitting in water, growing new roots.
Root grew out of node - this cutting is ready to pot.
Because I prefer to decorate with live houseplants, rather than silk, as much as possible, I use lots of Petey's offspring throughout my house.  Once the cuttings sprout roots, I either plant the cuttings in dirt or place them in a vessel with rocks or glass beads to grow in plain old water.  
That's right - plain old water.  You don't ever need to place your pothos cuttings in soil for them to thrive.  Pothos cuttings kept in vases or other vessels filled with river stones or glass beads are super easy to maintain and can live happily for years and years - as long as the root system stays in water and there is filtered sunlight.  

Last week, I even reverse potted a plant - I removed a pothos from dirt and am now growing it in rocks and water.  Seriously.  Here's how I did it:

How to Grow a Pothos in Water:
  • Determine that your pothos plant is not happy in the dirt.
  • Note:  I was not watering this this plant enough to keep up with the higher amounts of sunlight and warmth it received.   So, the dirt was dry and pulling away from the sides of the pot, and the leaves were beginning to droop and yellow.
A not-so-happy pothos, potted in dirt.
Dry dirt pulling away from the pot - time to address this issue.
  • Remove plant and soil from pot.  Tap root ball to remove dirt from root system using a trowel or shovel.
    Note:  Do this outside or over a large garbage can.
Plant ready to shed its dirt.
Tap the dirt off the root system.
  • Place a few river rocks in the bottom of a container sized appropriately for the plant.
    Note:  I used a large plastic container. 
Place a single layer of rocks in bottom of container.
  • Place the pothos into the container and fill in with more river rock.
Place plant in container.
  • Arrange the plant to evenly distribute vines. 
Place root nodes into the rocks - they will take root and strengthen the plant.
  • Pour water in the container high enough to cover roots, stems and nodes.  No leaves should be in water. 
Make sure no leaves are in rocks, just root nodes and stems.
  • Remove any yellow or dead leaves.
Remove dead and yellowing leaves, as well as any leaves that would be in water. 
  • Conceal the container in decorative pot/vessel and  place it in a bright location, out of direct sunlight and add water as needed.
    Result:  You are done.  You saved a plant from certain death and made your plant management routine a whole lot easier.
Pothos, reverse potted into rocks and water. 
Within a few days, the leaves will perk up.  As long as you keep water in the container, the pathos will trhive for years to come.   Here is what the plant looks like one week post-reverse potting:
One week after reverse potting.  Much happier!
Living with Pothos:
Below are some examples of how I've displayed my propagated pothos throughout the house, both in dirt and in water:

Pothos plants above our kitchen cabinets,
potted in wallpaper soaking trays.
New cuttings, potted in soil and displayed on a plant stand.
Behind the sink - pothos love the filtered, indirect light.
In a rectangular planter, atop the wall separating the shower from the tub. 
 One pothos vine in a clear vase with clear, glass beads.  
In a large plastic cup filled with rocks and water, disguised inside a pretty pot.
Other Spaces:
Several cuttings in a vase filled with rocks and water
In a small pot - three root nodes on a longer vine are submerged
in the water and rocks to add bulk.
Two vines in a keepsake vase on the mantel
A pothos planted in soil, disguised in a
larger crock, placed on a plant stand.
Have a leggy pothos in the house?  Propagate it.   Have a pathos you cannot remember to water?  Reverse pot it and plant it in water.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Create a Tiered Multi-Bin Toy Storage Organizer

Multi-bin Storage Organizer and cover now
As I picked up LEGOS and tossed them in the multi-bin organizer this morning,  I was reminded of twelve years ago, when we used to toss toddler toys in the same bins.
Multi-Bin Storage Organizer back in the day
Twelve short years ago, my daughter was beginning to crawl.  At the end of each day, our family room floor was an obstacle course of stuffed animals, books, puppets and blocks.  We needed somewhere to keep all the stuff contained, organized and safely accessible.  We had been tossing toys in the pack-n-play and a large, hinged toy box.  But toddlers crawl and climb, which meant I needed a new solution.  I did not want a determined toddler hurting herself while trying to get to something.
Even back then, children's stores and catalogs offered a dizzying array of multi-bin organizers.  Today, there are even more options, including 12-bin Kids Storage Organizers, Plastic Toy Organizers and  Multi-Bin Toy Organizers.  These items are all advertised as having bins of different sizes for storing things neatly.  Most are designed at toddler-height.  They are either white or light-wood; either un-decorated or emblazened with the popular animated character du jour.

As I researched, I became frustrated with the following features:
  • Scale:  The organizers appeared small for the amount of stuff we needed to stash.    Most were 30" high and 36" wide.  
  • Color schemes:  My choice seemed to be either a girl or boy (pastels or primary).  No neutral color scheme existed.  We wanted more kids, but did not want to have to buy a new organizer just because kid #2 was a boy. 
  • Bin dimensions: Although there were 12 bins, they were shallow - large toys hung off the sides and fell out.
  • Cost:  They were expensive, like all toddler gear. 
We wanted something functional and appropriate for both our first-born (a girl) and unborn second-born child.  We wanted a solution that blended into our family room decor, not one that screamed "toddler and preschool kids have taken over our house!"  So we abandoned child-centric stores and researched standard furniture stores and catalogs.  Here, the options for multi-bin organizers or bulk bins were more stylish, though considerably more expensive.  We quickly added affordable to the list of must-haves.  Kids are cute, but destructive.  I was not looking to spend a lot of money on something that would become 'distressed' very quickly.

Ultimately, we decided to make a multi-bin organizer ourselves.   We designed one that stands four-foot (48-inches) high, one-foot (12-inches) deep, and four-foot (48-inches) wide.  It can accommodate twelve 12-quart bins or even more 6-quart bins (shoe boxes).  We also designed and created a no-sew cover for the organizer, which we could use to cover the visual clutter of the toys in the evenings.  Keep reading to see how we did it:

How to build a Tiered Toy Storage Organizer:

First, a word about shelving material:
When we built our organizer twelve years ago, we used two prefinished stair treads with a light wood, thermally-fused finish, similar to melamine.  This specific material is no longer available in the home improvement stores.  Below are three comparable materials to consider:

Stair Treads:  Sounds crazy, right?  However, a stair tread measures 11 1/2" x 48".  This happens to be almost exactly the same as a standard 12" x 48" shelf.  And, when I checked, the stair tread was slightly cheaper than the pre-cut shelf!  Stair treads feature a smooth, rounded outside edge - no square edges to pose a danger to little ones.
Pine Stair Tread  - 11 1/2" x 48"
Note:  If you want to stain or paint the organizer and dowels a specific color, a pine stair tread is an excellent material choice - it's already sanded to a smooth finish and accepts stain or paint very well.

Pre-finished Shelves:  Most retailers offer 12" x 48" precut shelves that have been pre finished in a thermally fused malemine coating.  Our local home improvement store offers white, black, light-wood and dark-wood finish.
Pre-finished Melamine-coated shelves - 12' x 48"
Note:  If you choose this option, you will need to paint or stain the dowels to match.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF):  MDF, comes in various pre-cut sizes.  Similar to the prefinsihed shelves, MDF is sold with square edges.
3/4-inch thick MDF Planks - 12" x 48" 
Note:  MDF accepts paint and stain really well and is widely used in home improvement projects.  To get a rounded edge, you can easily round off the edges using a router.

General How To:
  • Stand one shelf or stair tread on end or lay on its side.
    Note:  If using a stair tread, the rounded edge should be the front edge.
  • Measure and mark the following:
    A.  10.5 inches down from the top edge; 1 1/2 inches in from the front edge.
    B.  8 inches down from the top edge; 1/2 inch in from the back edge.
    C.  10.5 inches down from the top edge; 3 inches in from the back edge.
Mark and Measure the spots for dowel placement.
  • Measure 11-inches down from each spot and mark for the second row of shelves.
    Note:  Repeat this for row three and four respectively.
Vertical distance between each dowel is 11 inches.
  • Repeat this process with the second stair tread or shelf.
    Note:  If using a stair tread, the rounded edge should be the front edge.
    Result:  You have marked for the dowels.  The marks on each stair tread or shelf should match.
  • Drill a pilot hole at each spot marked.
    Note:  You can drill from either side of the stair tread or shelf.  From the inside, the hole will be covered by the dowel.  From the outside, the hole will be covered by a hole cover cap.
  • Drill pilot holes in both ends of each dowel.
    Note:  Make sure to exactly center the drill bit on the dowel. 
  • Center a dowel over one of the marks so the holes match up.  Attach the dowel to the stair tread or shelf from the outside.
    Note:  Slightly counter sink the screw.
Close-up of counter-sunk screw.
  • Repeat this process for all dowels.
    Result:  One side of the organizer is complete.
  • Center the second stair tread or shelf over each of the dowels so the holes match up.  Attach the second side of each dowel from the outside.
    Note:  Slightly counter sink the screws.
  • Stand the organizer up and verify that each dowel is level.
    Note:  If you measured correctly, it should all be level.
Completed storage organizer - ready for bins.
  • Use the plastic screw cover caps to cover the screw holes on the outside of the organizer.
    Note:  Look for these at the home improvement store. 
Screw cap covers applied.
  • Place plastic bins on the organizer tiers and load in the toys, books, etc.
    Result:  It's time to play  .
The toy storage organizer (wall o toys) got lots of use.

How to Make a No-Sew Toy Organizer Cover:
Remember when I said I wanted  a solution that blended into our family room decor, not one that screamed "toddler and preschool kids have taken over our house!"   This multi-bin organizer, while very functional and capable of holding lots of stuff (books, puzzles, puppets, toys, etc), was visually distracting when we were relaxing or entertaining in the evenings.  We needed a cover.
Pack-n-play did not really hide the toddler toy clutter from sight.
So, I bought some fabric yardage - in a color to match our walls - and a few more items at the home improvement store and created my solution.  Keep reading to see how we made a simple no-sew toy organizer cover that you can quickly place on, and remove, as need be:

  • Fabric of your choice
    Note:  The fabric should be sized to cover the width of the organizer, drape across the top shelf and down the entire front, wrap around a dowel and leave room for 1/2 inch seam allowance.  I used a piece of fabric approximately 50" x 64".
  • Two 1/2" x 48" dowels
    Note:  you could also use round tension rods.
  • Four plastic l-brackets to hold the dowels in place (if using dowels)
    Note:  We used small white, plastic shelf supports flipped over so the cupped side was exposed.  It ended up being the perfect size for the dowel.
  • Fusible bonding web, such as Stitch Witchery
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pen or pencil
General How To:
  • Measure and cut your fabric for the cover panel.
    Note:  I cut a piece of fabric 50" x 64." 
  • Using Stitch Witchery, or other fusible web, iron a seam around two long sides and one short side of the fabric panel.
Iron on fusible webbing to hem the fabric panel.
  • On the remaining short side, measure and mark a line approximately three inches in from the edge.  
  • Apply Stitch Witchery, or other fusible web, along this side so that you create a channel (or rod pocket) large enough room to slide the dowel through.
The fourth side hem allows the dowel to slide through.

  •   Insert one of the dowels into the channel.
Dowel inserted into the fabric panel.
  • Attach the small, white plastic l-bracket to each upper, inside corner of the toy bin organizer.
    Note:  I wasn't sure what this piece of hardware was specifically called.  My husband reminded me that it was actually a shelf support bracket flipped over to use the bottom.  We found it in the general hardware department - in a bulk bin of shelving parts.  Use a level to verify that you installed the four l-brackets level.
    Note:  A curtain tension rod would work just as well - no brackets required.
The white, plastic l-bracket was the perfect size for 1/2 inch dowel rods.
  • Place one dowel on the front l-brackets.
One dowel rests on the front brackets.
  • Place the dowel end of the fabric panel on the back l-brackets.  Drape the fabric over the front dowel and let it hang down the front of the organizer.
    Result:  Toy bin organizer is officially covered.  The mess has been disguised!
Toy bin covered.  No visual distractions.
When Not in use, roll the fabric and dowel together and stow.
Store the organizer cover behind furniture or in a closet when not in use.
When we moved houses, we used the bin organizer in our upper level bonus room.   The kids were growing up, so we filled the bins with trains, Pokemon cards and cartridges, Power Rangers / Rescue Heroes, Matchbox Cars and LeapFrog books.
Stage Two use of the Tiered Toy Storage Organizer 
By then, several of the bins were cracked (from climbing on them) or missing.  No bin?  No problem.  Board games and puzzle boxes slide onto the lower dowels perfectly.
The bin organizer isn't just for bins.
Covering up the organizer was not a big issue - us adults did not have to stare at it every evening.  SO, the cover was stashed away in a closet.

Nowadays, the organizer has found a home in the "LEGO Room" / guest room.  The bins are full of LEGO.  The rest of the open shelves are for the larger boxes, etc.
Our multi-bin organizer is currently used to store all things LEGO
We again need to  hide the clutter from time to time because the LEGO room is also our guest room.  So, when we need to convert from playing well to hosting well, we pull down the Murphy Bed and pull out the organizer cover.  Works like a charm!
Multi-bin organizer covering up LEGO Bricks when guests stay over.
This is such a useful, cost-effective project!  We were able to design an organizer quite a bit larger than those offered onsite and in stores for about the same cost.  It's been twelve years since we built the organizer and I can honestly say it has stood the test of time.  Rather than donating or selling a toddler-specific organizer when the kids left pre-school and outgrew the design, we've been able to continue using the organizer, merely changing what is stored in the bins as the kids grew.     And, now that I make my own lined storage bins, I can easily replace any of the remaining plastic bins that break!  That's a bonus :) 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bathroom Refresh

Basement bathroom before and after a much-needed refresh
We love the full bathroom (four-piece washroom) in our basement.  The room has great bones:  tile flooring, a vanity with lots of storage, and plumbing that works.   A few decorating updates after moving in were all we felt the room needed.  Or, rather, they were all we felt like completing - jazzing up the basement bathroom was not high on the priority list, after all.

Immediately after we moved in, we updated the following items in the bathroom:
  • Bathroom Fan Duct:  We ran duct work from the bathroom (interior room) through the ceiling to an exterior wall vent, as recommended in our home inspection report.
  • Light Switch:  We changed it from toggle-style switch to a rocker-style switch.
  • Toilet seat:  A no-brainer for any new homeowner.  
  • Shower curtain rod:  We updated existing chrome shower rod with a curved, brushed nickel version. 
  • Towel Bar/toilet paper holder/robe hook:  We updated from chrome to brushed nickel.  
  • Art work:  We re-purposed artwork from the old house.
First round of updates completed when we moved in.
These were all simple and inexpensive updates.  But, over the next several months, a few things began to bug us.  Like the door knob that trapped guests in the room because it did not turn easily.  And the fluorescent light fixture that did not always turn on.  And the very small, shallow sink basin/faucet combination.  And the too light, pinkish-hued paint color.  I could go on and on.  It was time for a bathroom refresh.
This past weekend, we got to work.  We put our design stamp on the room and checked off one more item on our 'to-do' list.  We love the results.  Keep reading to see what we did and pick-up a few tips and hints if you decide to refresh your bathroom as well.
Here are the items we updated to refresh the tired bathroom:
  • Door Hardware 
  • Paint
  • Vanity
  • Backsplash
  • Lighting
  • Mirror
Refresh One:  Door Hardware
The bathroom door knob was always a bit temperamental.  We assume moisture from the improperly vented bathroom fan is to blame.  Although we've figured out how to deal with the knob, others have not.  So when a friend was recently trapped in the bathroom because the knob would not turn, we knew it was time to address the issue.
Refresh One:  Door Hardware

Door Levers:  I happen to prefer the lever style over knob style.  Whichever style you prefer, make sure it is consistent throughout the house.  It's a subtle detail that, when updated, makes a huge difference - especially when you want/need to sell and have to compete with 'new construction.'  Take a look at your door hardware.  If your door knobs are scratched or paint-stained, consider refreshing them.
Satin Nickel lever replaces brass knob
We chose a lever-style in satin nickel finish.  We plan to update all our doors over time, tackling each door as we address the corresponding room.  We used the stop watch (for fun) to time how long this update took.  We spent just over five minutes (five minutes and 8 seconds to be exact) to change the knob
Note:  A less expensive fix is to clean and spray-paint the knobs in a metallic finish.
Door Hinges:  Most interior doors are installed with brass or silver-colored door hinges.  By the time a home is 20+ years old, a large number of these door hinges are mismatched and sprinkled with paint stains.  Why?  Because few home owners think to replace hinges when updating door knobs to a different finish, such as nickel or oil-rubbed bronze.  Likewise, few homeowners tape over hinges when prepping trim for paint.
Paint-sprinkled hinges
Hinges may seem insignificant, but they really do tell a lot about the house.  We inspected the hinges before we headed to the store.  They were a silver metal finish and were clean, so we left them as-is.
Note:  Remove small paint spatters with a Q-tip soaked in paint thinner.  To change the paint finish, remove the hinges and spray paint them.  You can also replace them with new hinges in a coordinating finish.
Door Stops:  Another small detail, door stops, are equally significant to the overall look of room.  Baseboard stops, wall stops and hinge-pin stops are all designed to stop a door knob from slamming into the wall.
No matter the style you choose, match the finish to either the door hardware or trim paint color We paid $1.25 for the baseboard stop in this room to update it from a broken door stop to a rigid baseboard stop in satin nickel finish.

Refresh Two:  Paint
I love what a simple, inexpensive can of paint can do to a room.  The bathroom's existing paint color matched what was used throughout the basement - we assume the previous owners chose it when building out the basement.  While it is a neutral color, we do not really care for the pink undertone.   So, we chose a more saturated color (Pebble Path by Behr) and painted two coats on the walls.
Refresh Two:  Paint
Prepping the room (removing fixtures and taping) took about thirty minutes.  The actual task of painting took less than two hours.  Once the paint was dry, we rehung the shower curtain rod and towel rack, switched out towels, and replaced artwork.  Then, we moved on to the next refresh.

Refresh Three: Vanity
We intended to replace the entire vanity in this bathroom.  In fact, we purchased a replacement vanity last summer.  Once we got the vanity home, however, we realized that the existing vanity had been installed before floor tile was laid.  Grout lines around the base of the cabinet revealed this fact.  We found no extra flooring tiles anywhere in the house.  This meant that a replacement vanity needed to match the exact measurements of the existing vanity - a larger or smaller size meant messing with the floor.
Refresh Three:  Vanity
We confirmed that the existing vanity was originally a white cabinet when we removed the existing cabinet pulls and saw stark white circles on the doors.
Note:  I will never understand why people do not remove fixtures/pulls/hinges/etc. before painting.  That is a major pet peeve of mine.
Cabinet pulls were not removed prior to painting.  Argh. 
The bottom of the cabinet was left white to blend with the base trim molding in the room.
Cabinet was installed before flooring .
Rather than replace the vanity, we decided to refresh it by completing the following updates:
  • Replace the countertop and sink with granite vanity top combo
  • Replace the faucet
  • Repaint the cabinet doors (to fix the imperfections)
  • Add tip-out trays to create more storage
  • Replace the cabinet pulls
Vanity Top Combo:
Because the vanity was staying, we shopped for a pre-assembled vanity top that matched the vanity's dimensions.  We found two options we loved:  a stone-like material  and granite.   Ultimately, we chose the granite vanity combo because it was slightly cheaper.  Also, because it was granite!
Note:  The stone-like material combo includes only one side splash.  The granite combo included two side splashes.
The vanity top combo was the perfect fit!
We've replaced vanities before, so we already knew what steps to take.  If you have never attempted this yourself, check out this great tutorial from DIY Network.    

The original faucet was an inexpensive center mount faucet.  The vanity counter top came with an under mount sink and was pre-drilled for an 8-inch widespread faucet, so we knew we were going to replace it.    Before heading out to the store, I snapped a picture of the vanity specifications.  I referred to it a few times as I perused the huge wall-o-faucets at the home improvement store. Knowing I wanted satin nickel and 8-inch widespread made my selection process much easier.    
Note:  Read more about faucet sizes on Dimensions Info's web site.
To save time (and backache), my husband installed the faucet parts to the vanity top before actually attaching  it to the cabinet base.  The water pipes and drain all fit perfectly on the first try.  He simply tightened the pipe connections and turned the water back on to test.  No leaks.
Faucet upgrade - love the pop up drain!
Tip Out Tray:
I love to optimize storage whenever possible - adding additional, hidden storage with a tip out tray is a great example.  It attaches to the inside of the base cabinet's front panel and provides additional storage for small items.  My husband uses the basement bathroom as his executive washroom (he works from home), so I appreciate having his toiletries hidden.  He appreciates still keeping them handy and within reach.

Tip-out tray adds storage and keeps counter top clear!
Tip out trays are readily available in home improvement stores and take little time to install.  To install, my husband removed the front panel of the vanity, installed the hinges and trays and was done.  Such a great, quick upgrade - it takes just about ten minutes to install the tip out trays.
Note:  Check out this Merillat file to see how easy it can be to add tip out trays

Cabinet Doors and Pulls:
I knew I wanted to use bar pulls in a satin nickel finish.  Because we added the tip-out tray, we bought three pulls - two mounted verically and one mounted horizontally.  Before I could install them, however, I needed to correct the original paint job.  We found a quart of the mocha-colored paint (Coffee Bean by Valspar), used to paint the original vanity, left behind by the previous owners.   Phew.
Note:  If we had not found the paint, we would have brought a door to the home improvement store and asked them to color match.  Most stores can easily and quickly do this for you.
Cabinet door after first sanding and paint touch up.
We removed the cabinet doors, sanded and applied paint.  Twice.  Once dry, we measured and drilled a second hole on each door and attached the bar pulls.
Note:  We bought a drill template at Ikea years ago - it makes the job of marking and drilling consistent handle holes a breeze.
New pulls installed.
Once we attached the bar pulls, we were done with the vanity.  It did require a few extra steps (darn cabinet doors), but we ended up with a lovely finished product.  Well worth the effort.

Refresh Four:  Backsplash
While in the tile outlet store shopping for the vanity top, I spied a beautiful mosaic tile that coordinated wonderfully with our scheme.  We decided to install it as a backsplash.  The vanity top already came with side splashes, one of which meets up (tightly) to the plate glass mirror we had to work around.  So this mosaic tile is more of a decorative feature.
Refresh Four:  Tile Backsplash
We bought two sheets of the mosaic (Loreto Mosaic Marble Tile), two pieces of pencil trim tile, and some unsanded grout:
Tile mosaic we chose for the backsplash
We ended up only using one sheet of the mosaic to complete the project.  In my post from a couple weeks ago, I explain how to add a tile backsplash using travertine tile.  We followed the same basic method, making the following two changes to accommodate the various stones comprising the mosaic:
  • We trimmed the tile using a wet saw.
  • We grouted using an unsanded grout to protect the polished finish of the tile.  
Tile complete.
Another quick update.  We spent a total of about one hour, split over two evenings, to complete this backsplash.  I think tiling may be my new favorite project.

Refresh Five:  Lighting
The existing fluorescent light fixture was suspended in the drop ceiling - it was utilitarian, and not at all decorative.  It often require two or more flips of the switch to activate.  Similar to the sticking door knob, we assume moisture from the improperly vented bathroom fan is to blame for the light's issues.  We opted to replace it with a wall-mounted light fixture instead.
Refresh Five:  Lighting
I chose a fixture that uses four globes, to optimize light - it's an interior room with no windows.
Note:  The decorative mirrors, hung on the opposite wall (above the towel rack), reflect this light and make things even a bit brighter.
When we measured to determine where to place the light, we discovered that a wall stud was in the exact space - just wall behind the mirror - where we needed to install a junction box.  A regular junction box is too deep and would not fit - and we were not about to cut into the wall stud.  Argh!  Luckily, there is a solution for this issue - a pancake box, or steel, round ceiling pan, fits in the narrow space in front of the stud, flush with the drywall.  Who knew?  My husband knew, that's who.
We needed a pancake junction box to install vanity lighting.
So, after switching off power to the room, he cut a hole for the new wall fixture, re-routed the wiring from the ceiling light to the wall fixture, tucked the connections in the pancake  junction box (it's a tight squeeze!), tightened the fixture and installed the light bulbs.  Once the power was turned back on, we verified it all worked and  installed a new ceiling tile in the space where the flourescent light occupied.

Extra light created by reflections in the mirrors.
New ceiling tile installed.
This project took all of about 25 minutes to complete.  You would never even know the fluorescent light had once lit that bathroom.

Refresh Six: Mirror
We opted to save money by working with the existing plate glass mirror.  Like we'd done in other projects, we planned to frame the mirror out with wooden trim molding.
Refresh Six:  Mirror

We purchased molding and L-brackets at the home improvement store, measured and cut the wood, painted, and strengthened the frame using the L-brackets.  We attached the assembly to the mirror using clear silicone adhesive.  Clamps held it in place while it dried.
We painted both sides of the molding with two coats of paint
Waiting for the caulk to dry.
This project cost less than ten dollars to complete.  It was completed over the course of a couple of days - we had to wait for the paint to dry.

The Finishing Touches:  Art Work
The final consideration for this project was what to hang on the walls.  We reused inexpensive circle artwork and frames, created original photos, and bought mirrors.  Each item shared the common accent color, black, and tied into an overall plan for the bathroom.  We spent very little money and achieved a big impact.  Perfect!
 Purchased mirrors - the Martha Stewart collection
Printed image (from the Internet) displayed in a re-purposed frame 
Printed image (from the Internet) and close-up photos of the tile mosaic displayed in a re-purposed frame.
Tryptic of Black Circle Artwork re-used from previous bathroom design.
Bathroom Refresh Complete
We're done!  In just a few days, we were able to refresh the tired basement bathroom and make it a stylish, super functional room.  The Before And After Shots below are a nice reminder that sometimes a little refresh can make a huge difference!

We have guests visiting this weekend, we are so glad the updates are complete!

And, as for the old countertop, sink, and lighting fixture?  Not to worry.  We brought them to our neighborhood donation center.
Dropping off the old fixtures
 They may not fit our taste anymore, but they are functional and can live on in another home or office.