Master Bath Updates

Mista Lista’s last post gave you a sneak peak of some painting happening around the ‘Zoo if you were looking closely.  Painting a whole house is s a slow process, especially when you are trying to work full time (Chris) and work part time/finish your dissertation (Amy).  Between the two of us, we’ve managed to paint five rooms (and one room twice–more on that in a future post) since the beginning of March.  Isn’t it amazing the difference that paint (and furniture and bedding) can make?





Our master bathroom is feeling a lot better now that it has been painted in Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray and has a new toilet.  We’ve adjusted to the plastic seat, which is apparently a good thing since we can’t find a non-plastic Kohler seat that would fit with our toilet should we want to swap ours out at some point.  We love the chameleon nature of Comfort Gray: As the light changes in this room, it shifts from gray to green to blue.  In the shadowy water closet/shower area, it even looks like a marine blue.


Oh, and did I mention we have a new shower curtain, too? I found this at Target last Friday for $19.99.  IMG_3097

I wasn’t supposed to be shopping for home things since we had to shell out big bucks for the roof this month, but my mom had a coupon for $15 off a home purchase of $75 that she wasn’t planning to use.  While I was at Target purchasing essentials like toothpaste, I took a tour of the home goods section and found this new quilt for the spare room bed. It coordinates nicely with some pillows I made last summer.  It will likely become the quilt for the guest room bed once this room becomes a nursery, but right now I’m happy that the fabric helps the random assortment of antique white, white, and black furniture and the Drizzle paint color (Sherwin Williams) come together in a more cohesive, intentional way.



Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the quilt was $69.99, so I wouldn’t get to use the coupon if I didn’t add something else from the home section to my cart…and that’s when I heard this shower curtain calling my name.


Even without the coupon, the $20 shower curtain is still a bargain compared to the $50 one we had considered buying from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Another change to the master bath involved the addition of some much needed storage in the form of a maple Cubeical that was previously snoozing in a closet waiting to be used somewhere.  IMG_3102

Even though our master bath has plenty of storage in theory, the deep wire rack shelves in the linen closet and the lack of counter and drawer space make storing small bath essentials difficult.  We barely have room for soap dispensers and toothbrushes on the countertop. Seriously, builder, what were you thinking?! Ever notice that builders frequently make choices that don’t consider how a space will actually be used, other than for basic verbs (eat, sit, sleep, pee)? ALL. THE. TIME.

Cubeicals are hardworking little things around the ‘Zoo, let me tell you, from books to crafts to bath storage.   This one tucks away nicely behind the door, so you wouldn’t know it was there if I hadn’t just told you.


The open storage is much better for accessibility and makes the best use of the otherwise dead space on that long, empty wall. IMG_3104

I’ll continue to play with the arrangement of items stored here, but for now, it is helping make morning and evening routines faster.  Chris even commented on how he liked having everything stored in the Cubeical.  Yessir, we are making progress when the hubs actually likes and utilizes the organizational changes the wife makes.


Enveloped in Envelope Pillow Covers

Confession: I love pillows.IMG_2150

Well, I used to love pillows. Then I learned from the Vanderbilt ASAP clinic that I have a dust mite allergy…a really, really severe dust mite allergy–one of the worst they’ve ever seen.  Guess where dust mites live? Pillows. Mattresses. Upholstered furniture. Carpet.  Those yellowish stains on your nice, soft feather pillows? Not sweat. Dust mite detritus.

In other words, dust mites love soft things, just like we do.  To make matters worse, dust mites love soft, breathable, organic fibers like cotton; unfortunately, so do I, since I am allergic to the chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic fabrics, too.

The docs recommended I eliminate all fabric from my home except for my mattress and bed pillow, which should be covered in synthetic, plastic, zip-closure things that essentially suffocate the dust mites and provide a protective barrier between mighty-mites and me (sounds comfortable, right?).  Sputtering, I responded, “What am I supposed to have left in my house?”  They recommended hardwood or tile floors (Yay!) and (drumroll, please) metal or plastic furniture.  WHAT??!?!?!

Although I did buy the mattress and pillow enclosures (and have been pleasantly pleased, especially now that they have extra soft ones at Bed, Bath, & Beyond!), I thought they were asking a bit much.  After all, I currently live in a 90% carpeted condo, so I can’t exactly rip up the homeowners’ carpet and say, “My allergies/doctors/voices in my head made me do it.”  Plus, who doesn’t want a comfy couch? With comfy pillows? And comfy ottomans?  I used to work at Pier 1 Imports.  Not once did someone enter the store and say, “Where are your plastic throw cushions?”  or “I’m looking for a nice, metal couch.”  Not many people are screaming for a metal or plastic couch…at least, I don’t hear any.

That was in November 2011.  Since then, I see dust mites everywhere (no, you can’t actually see them without magnification), but I have visions of them propagating and march-running over the swells of the sofa like orcs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I’ve started labeling anything potentially dust mite-laden or a dust-collector as a “dusty.”  With so many dusties around the house contributing to my ill-being, I willingly sacrificed two trash bags of throw/accent pillows dusties to Goodwill.

This was before I read online that you could slow dust mite reproductive cycles (and facilitate die-off) by freezing your pillows (and anything you can’t machine wash and dry on hot) in sealed, plastic bags like those giant Ziplocs for over 24 hours.  I knew that keeping your home colder (below 68 degrees) limits their reproductivity, but this was news to me.  Wait, I didn’t have to give those pillows away?!?!?! Eh, whittling down my supply of pillows was probably wise; after all, I still have 11 dusties toss pillows remaining in various locations around our home.  Plus, some of those pillows would have been hard to cover (dark colors, bold florals, textural).  What pillows I have remaining are definitely my favorites, but they could still benefit from updating.

Enter the envelope pillow.  IMG_2198

Since my decorating style is rather eclectic, and I get bored with the same old, same old rather quickly, I decided to make some envelope enclosures for my existing pillows.  This way, I can easily remove the covers, wash them (those of you with kids are nodding, right?), and change out according to season, design whim, etc.

There are several websites and blog posts about making envelope pillow covers that necessitate varying degrees of expertise and patience needed to decipher, read between the lines, and follow the directions.   I’ve listed some options below, but there are plenty of other good tutorials out there!

For people who know sewing terms:

For novices (like me):

Tatertots & Jello: Love the orange polkadot fabric and sizing calculation info but would have benefited from pictures and directions together in stepwise format

Centsational Girl: Love the diagrams and step-by-step directions (this really helped me visualize the project more clearly) but would have benefited from sizing info

I Heart Stitching: Love the listing of fabric dimensions for different pillow sizes.  Directive rambling? Not so much for me, but this could be useful for a lot of people (lots of calming reassurance).  Best part, IMO? The most disturbingly stained ironing board I’ve ever seen.  I love it when we see the human side of amazing DIY people!

I followed a hybrid of these four tutorials, summarizing my process below:


Measure and cut your front panel.  For an 18 in x 18 in pillow, I cut a 19 in x 19 in front panel, allowing the extra 1 inch requisite that these tutorials recommended.  Then measure and cut your back panels (shown in pic), which for me were 19 inches long (to be as long as my pillow front) x 12.5 inches wide each (I followed the Tatertots & Jello calculation here).



Fold the opening edge of one of your back panels under once (1/2 inch) and once more (another 1/2 inch).  The opening edge is the side of the panel that will be open in the middle of the  back so you can stuff your pillow inside the cover.


Pin and sew those edges, backstitching at the beginning and end for strength. Rinse and repeat for the other back panel.



This is where you can totally ruin your project if you aren’t careful. Lay front panel sunny side up (pretty side facing up).


Lay the two back panels sunny side down on top of the front panel, making sure your outside edges match up so that you have the right amount of overlap in the middle of the back.  Pin and sew around the entire perimeter (outer edge) of the pillow cover, leaving about a half inch allowance (margin).

Backstitching at the beginning and end of your sewing is a must, and some people recommend backstitching over the corners and the area where the opening will be to reinforce the pillow (rule follower that I am, I did!).


Now turn your pillow cover right side out through the opening, and stuff with pillow form or old pillow. Voila!


Once I did one pillow cover, I couldn’t stop.




The yellow pillow with the white chunky chains is from Target; the other three are pillows wearing my envelope pillow covers. Yay!

Lessons learned:

If you cut your fabric an extra inch in dimensions, as recommended by these tutorials, you may have a pillow cover that is a bit loose if your pillow form or existing pillow doesn’t fill it out completely.  Even when a pillow’s label says “18 x 18” you may have extra room in your 19 x 19 cover.  In fact, I made a 19 x 19 pillow cover for an 18 x 18 pillow and managed to get a 19.5 x 19.5 pillow (the gray floral) inside it to get the form to be snug and crisp-looking. I wouldn’t recommend this necessarily, though, because you don’t want the back opening to pucker, or worse, rip your brand-new pillow cover.  The back of mine doesn’t pucker but is close.  I tried a half-inch allowance for another square pillow, and that turned out to be just perfect, possibly because my pillows aren’t as plump as other people’s pillows (insert adolescent male joke here).   For a rectangular shape, I recommend the full inch allowance, as stuffing the pillow through a smaller opening is a tougher job, and you may need extra room inside for properly positioning the pillow (try to say that five times!).

Also, on the rectangular form, you don’t need as much overlap in the back panels. In fact, that much overlap makes it REALLY difficult to get the pillow inside.

In sum, I’ve saved a good bit of money by reusing the pillows I already have and covering them with fabric leftover from a different project that was relatively quick and easy to do–perfect for a sewing novice like me.  Plus, the dust mites have a prettier home in which to reside. I’m sure they’re thanking me for giving their home a facelift, perhaps dedicating their next-born to me.  I’ll soon send them all on an all-expenses paid trip to the Arctic (aka the freezer) in return.  Aren’t I generous? 🙂