The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

My husband hates my new knobs.

You guys? Can we talk about something kind of embarrassing?

I’ve been feeling really frumpy lately. Mainly, when I’m in the bathroom and I look down, I feel like my knobs just haven’t aged very well.

Back in the late 80s when they were shiny and new, they were pretty popular; I’m not going to lie.

my knobs have not aged well

But twenty+ years of regular handling have obviously taken their toll, not to mention the excess moisture and occasional banging.

I just felt like my whole look was, well, dated and worn. I wanted to swap out my tarnished, lifeless old knobs for something shiny and new, like so many other women in my neighborhood have done lately. I know I should be happy with what I have, but I was coveting knobs that were perky and fresh! Something my husband and I wouldn’t mind grabbing several times a day.

So I saved up and bought a set of the prettiest knobs I could afford!

And that was not an easy feat because there are SO MANY CHOICES. Who knew?!

Not to mention the fact that my ADD prevented me from planning ahead and doing a special order of the knobs I really wanted.

Sweet Brown aint got time to special order knobs at Home Depot

So I chose a set I thought would look good enough given my budget and time constraints, and I set to work.

As soon as they were on, I ran to show my husband. Would he like them too?

Sadly,ย his reaction was not at all what I expected.

“They’re bigger than I thought they would be,” he said.

“Really?” I asked. “You think they’re too big?”

“A little…yeah…they’re kind of awkward and lumpy. And they’re sort of hard to grasp too. I…I’m afraid I’ll break them.”

“Oh…well that sucks. I think they’re really pretty. You don’t like the way they feel? Seriously? Day-yum.”

“Let’s just live with them for a few days and then decide,” he suggested.

I felt shocked and crushed at the same time. In 15 years of marriage we had always managed to agree on matters of, uh…enhancements.

Honestly, I just assumed he’d like what I picked, but apparently he wanted something smaller, simpler, less showy.

A compromise was clearly in order. After all, to have and to hold, right?

So we took a few days to see if he would warm up to my new knobs.

And not only did he not come around, but over the course of those few days, I started to agree with him.

It pains me to say it, but he was right. When I looked at them with fresh eyes, those knobs were all wrong for the rest of my new look.

your knobs are too big and lumpy hon

Maybe I should back up a bit and start at the beginning.

I’m obviously talking about cabinet knobs and pulls. What did you think I meant? Geez. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y renovating our master bath over the course of the last…OMG…really? FOUR YEARS? Shit. (Oh so THAT is why people pay professionals.)

It’s been a long time since my last blog update about itย when I swapped out the cultured marble counter top for a granite one,ย but only because I didn’t want to bore you to death.

new granite

Since last June I have painted the walls (twice…because I hated the shiny satin finish the guy at the hardware store talked me into) and installed new faucets and drains (myself, thankyouverymuch), and my husband put in new light fixtures.

Then I tackled the vanity. Here is the original “before” shot just for funsies.

master bath vanity before


It’s one of those builder-grade dealios made from particle board and laminate…very shoddy quality, and very badly damaged by wear and tear.

I took all the doors and drawers off, sanded down the raised water-damaged areas, applied a primer, and then painted and waxed everything with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint (in Chateau Grey and Graphite) and Wax (clear and dark). It was a labor of love, let me tell you.

I’m not a painting expert and I don’t want to steer you wrong with how to use Annie Sloan products, so I won’t go into it here. Frankly I’m not even sure these products were the best choice for a bathroom, but only time will tell. I’m hoping that the primer plus the multiple (4) coats of paint and wax (3) will help protect them from water damage.

But here’s how it looked after the paint and wax, and while we were “trying on” the new Victorian glass knobs that we eventually rejected. That paint color on the walls is Celery Root (flat finish) by Valspar, by the way. I’m not sure if I love it or not yet. It’s more green than I thought it was going to be…I was hoping for more of a gray-green. (Also, ignore the floor…we’re not done.)

bathroom vanity after painting

I also spray painted the cabinet door hinges with a flat black paint because the tarnished brass ones were killing my buzz.

In the end, we returned the big, lumpy, glass knobs and went with smaller chrome handles, to match the faucets and light fixtures. And here’s the big reveal (drum roll please)…

before and after of bathroom vanity makeover by The Bearded IrisYou know I’m not the best photographer, and the lighting is making the cabinet look more blue than it is in real life, so try to look past that if you can.

I think it’s pretty amazing what some primer, 4 coats of paint, 3 coats of wax, some new knobs, and bit of touch-up spray can do for a gal. Don’t you?

My husband sure likes the final look, although he did say, “Those knobs stick out kind of far, don’t you think?”

What. WHAT?!

To which I snapped, “Hey, you know what? If you don’t like the new knobs, don’t use ’em.”

And that was the end of that.

Coming soon: a new floor and a toilet. Hopefully our marriage can survive it.


  1. Kris the Colts Fan

    January 31, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Love the knobs and pulls you have on there now. It looks great so far! When you’re done, will you come do my bathroom?

    • Thanks Kris! And HAYLE no. We’ll all be in the nursing home by the time I finish this damn bathroom.

      • OMG BEAUTIMOUS!!!!! I’m on the bandwagon with Kris. You have serious DIY talent. I’ll fly y’all up to beautiful Wisconsin to redo our bathroom. Right now it’s cold enough that your snot might freeze to your face, but spring, summer and fall are lovely.

  2. Very nice! I hope this makes you feel better:
    My husband builds high-end custom cabinetry for those jillion-dollar homes no one builds anymore (he has another job now, tho.) and it has taken us (so far) 6 years to do our bathroom, and it’s about 1/2 the size of yours. He has promised to build a fancy new vanity that looks like a piece of furniture, and I can’t go buy one (like I did for the kitchen renovation…he accused me of infidelity) because it’s an odd size. Anyway, don’t feel bad about a 4 year reno. You aren’t alone.

    • Thanks Rootie. That does make me feel a little better because I’m not even a pro and it’s taking me for-ev-er. I would hope that if I had some skills I would have finished by now. But clearly not. Damn, can’t believe you’d cheat on your man like that ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • He can’t believe it either. It’s been 5 years and he still glares at the cabinets, even though he admits I chose well. To his credit (or maybe mine?), the kitchen reno only took 6 months.

  3. looks awesome. i feel both inspired to take on a home DIY project, and assured it would mean my husband and i not talking to each other for a prolonged period of time.

    but honestly, my vanity doesn’t even look like your pre-version. i would be happy with even your original knobs. and pulls.

    • Thanks Anna! Yes, a project of this magnitude is a definite strain, let me tell you, and not just because of the differences of opinion on things like knobs.

      But on the other hand, I sure do enjoy my spiffed up vanity now! So…worth it! Go for it. And most knobs are pretty cheap. Go get some new knobs! They totally breathe new life into shitty old cabinets.

      • My husband declared that the hardware is like the jewelry on an outfit. Even the fanciest knobs (unless you go someplace and have them handmade by Peruvian blacksmiths) aren’t much more than $4-5 a piece. (yes, he made a set of cabinets with handmade Peruvian wrought iron hardware. I could have sent my kid to private school for 2 years on what that mess cost.)

  4. Oooooh purty. I like the ones you have on now as the first set made me say Hi, Granny. No one wants to think of having their Granny’s knobs, hon. No one.

    • Oh Arnebya. That is awesome. You are SO right. I thought they’d be all shabby-chic and shit, but clearly the emphasis was on the shabby…just like my Granny’s vintage long shanks. Jayzus. I’ll never be able to look at a glass knob again.

  5. But they are so shiny and look like they would really be able to stand up to some abuse! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I think you did a great job.

    And as far as the husband is concerned, just wait until he wants to get a more sturdy hose, something that will hold up to the elements and not spray prematurely. When he wants your approval, be sure to say that you want something bigger.

    Turn about is fair play!

    • Bwahahaha! I would pay cash money to walk the aisles of a Home Depot with you someday, Kristen. We would have so much fun shopping for hoses and caulk and jack hammers together.

  7. Well Little Missy I’m impressed! I do like your second choice much better. I wish I had the nerve to do that to our bathroom but am too afraid of screwing up & spending more $. Your original knobs are like the ones on my kitchen cabinets except the wood is oak color. Tell me good taste doesn’t go out of style!??

    • I cannot tell you that because I know nothing of this thing you call “good taste.” (As you can see by my first attempt at the knob game.) Listen, Toots, this was my first ride on the vanity makeover rodeo and if I can do it, you can do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I think your bathroom renovations look amazing! Love the before/after shots. And LOL at “they’re kind of big… and lumpy.”

    You have a window in your bathroom! I can’t wait to crawl out of a shoebox and have an actual house to play with. Fingers crossed it happens this year!

  9. Isn’t it nice to know your man prefers the old, busted up knobs he’s been grabbing for years? Even when you bring a fresh new pair into the house, he doesn’t want to look at them OR touch them.

  10. I have to say, you have some fantastic knobs. I think you’ve inspired me to get some new ones for myself. I’ll let you know if my husband would like to thank you!

  11. Love the look! I need to do mine too- I thought that chalk paint was a one application process….hmmmm….

    • Oh sister, noooooooo. Days. Actually, weeks. One coat is totally not enough, and if you want to get a distressed/aged look where you can see through to an undercoat, it will take two coats of EACH color. And the waxing is a little tricky. But the colors are gorgeous and the paint is very forgiving. I just hope it holds up in the bathroom. I’ll keep you posted!

  12. You mean you can renovate a bathroom (or any room) instead of just complaining about it for fifteen years? Wow. Amazing. Your like-new knobs look fantastic: you’d never guess that wasn’t the original chest…of drawers, of course. And as much as it’s galling to admit it, I think Hubs was right…your first set of new knobs didn’t quite work with the new look.
    Spiffy– and I really like the paint color, or at least what I can see of it in this picture.

  13. I remember those knobs from the eighties! My friend had them and I was so jealous because mine were awful.

    I plan to paint my kitchen island in the AS graphite, so I am hoping it will hold up. My problem is buying the paint. The place that used to carry it…50 miles away…has stopped and I just can’t make myself drive to a town two hours away to buy paint.

    • Can’t you find it on the Internet somewhere and have them ship it to you? I think I’ll do my kitchen island in the Graphite too, but with a different undercoat next time. The Chateau Grey just doesn’t show through well enough.

      • I did find it online but the shipping was ridiculous. However, I suppose my time is worth something and my car does use gas. Thanks for the nudge!

  14. When the male person and the publicist moved to Montana the publicist wanted to have a house built but for some reason (money) the male person wanted to build the house himself. The publicist reluctantly agreed if he would FINISH the house. The publicist really knew better but he started building. They moved in when it was “liveable.”

    It is still “liveable.”

    It will NEVER be finished.

    The male person’s answer is at least the taxes are lower because the rates change upon completion. You don’t want to know what the publicist has to say.

  15. The publicist just yelled at me for not telling you how pretty your vanity looks.
    I am a bad and selfish goat.

  16. Wow! The bathroom looks amazeballs. You did an awesome job.

    So glad you returned the lumpy knobs, the chrome definitely looks better.

    Hope you didn’t get bronchitis while remodeling the bathroom. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  17. My husband’s been a contractor/carpenter for years, and lemme tell ya, our renovation jobs take YEARS. Usually he’ll get 90% there and then forget about it for 3 years, til I threaten leaving him if he doesn’t just patch that last damned hole in the drywall, paint the trim, and put in the fart fan.

    • *snicker* You said “fart fan”! That reminds me, we still need to paint the ceiling and put in the fart fan! We should have done that before the walls, but we didn’t and now there will be ceiling spatters on my walls. DERP. Oh well, done is better than perfect right?

  18. Can I come and take a dump there? Jesus. You have a dance floor. Get a disco ball or a chandelier for that. Club Dump&Beard.

    • Dude, a disco ball would be the PERFECT accessory! And it would totally go with my shiny new knobs. I’m totally inviting you to the inaugural dump and dance party…as soon as I get a terlet.

  19. I love it. Outstanding job. BTW – when (not if) that toliet winds up in your front yard, I want pictures.

    • You jest, but I’ll have you know that my husband had to beg me to not turn the old toilet into a planter. I was DYING to do it but he’s such a wet blanket when it comes to yard art.

      • Ahh, lass, I jest you not! Remember the sink? And- I have the most awesome toliet planter on pinterest. Come on Pllleeeaaassssee.

  20. I love the new cabinets!! We remodeled our one and only bathroom last summer and for real thought we would be homeless or divorced by the end of it. Glad you found some awesome knobs you could agree upon! Good luck with the toilet! Make sure you try sitting on them because those handicap accessible ones take some getting used to! Our new one is taller! And me being a midget my feet no longer sit flat while using the facilities. So if you need leverage, make sure you fit properly on the new one! Oh and scrap the wax ring and get the new deals instead. So awesome and easy!!

    • 1.) “if you need leverage”…OMG Bri, I am laughing so hard I might have just sharted a little. Honey, you need to add some fiber to your diet, m’kay?!

      2.) Hold up, there is an alternative to the old wax ring? SHUT. UP. I cannot wait to find out more! Those wax rings are DISGUSTING.

      3.) Thank you loving my new cabinets! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Iris/Leslie I am SO impressed with the cabinets. They look fabulous. I admire your determination and perseverance at finishing those – QUITE worth it! The cupboards and the bit under the tub really add a lot to the room. Rock-on, RenoLady!

    • Thank you Cath! I was nervous about the dark cabinets being SO DARK, but I think they’ll look even better once we get a new floor in there. I definitely like them better than the old laminate/brass combo! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. New bathroom looks fabulous! I just wish I had a normal husband who didn’t care about crap like knobs and vanities. But, I appear to have married a gay metrosexual because I can’t buy a throw pillow without him jumping in with an opinion! Why can’t he be a beer-swilling, NFL watching beast like all the rest, damnit!

  23. This is probably a ridiculous request, but could you post a close-up of one of the doors to show the paint? I’ve never heard of chalk paint (much less waxing the paint), and I like how rich the color looks. Maybe over on Facebook?

  24. Love the renovations! They look beautiful…….and so real! Great post:)

  25. I LOVE YOUR KNOBS! I happen to have the same knobs. They are real and they are fabulous.

  26. So pretty! The bathroom and the knobs .
    I have a fascination with knobs- I love them and have many that I’ve purchased but not used. Anthropologie has the best ones.

  27. Ha! What a great post! I love your knobs and all that you’ve done to your bathroom. I’m really wanting to redo mine but will have to hire it out. Built in the early 90s with 12″ hunter green marble look tiles on the floor, around the garden tub and lining the shower…..Ackkkkkk! I believe your ASCP will be fine. Wish I could use it on my tiles!

  28. Love the knobs! I would have told my husband the same thing!

  29. Nice knobs. He will get used to them in about two weeks (speaking from former husband point of view). Now, about the other “knobs”………..

    • Yes, there is always a breaking-in period with new knobs, isn’t there. It’s been a while, but I vaguely remember that from the last time I got new ones. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. his and hers sinks is seriously unexpectedly posh — enjoy pulling your knobs m’lady

  31. The knobs used to be perky…I can relate and I’m not talking about my vanity, or am I? I love your reno, it looks beautiful. I could use a physical renovation myself but where to start?

  32. Wait until you decide you hate all the white plastic switch plates in your house. I have a thing for those AND knobs too. I could take a vacation with the money I spend on that stuff. But then again, I have to look at it every day. Worth it!

  33. I love the new bathroom so far! A few years back I was bored one summer and redid our upstairs bathroom in much the same way. lol I told the hubs that’s what happens when I get bored. I laid ceramic tile (including insets of the glass tiles) on the floor. It was my first experience so it was quite a task. lol Pulled the old cabinet out, stripped it down and restained it. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment isn’t it? Keep up the great work…can’t wait to see the floor when you get it done.

  34. Gorgeous! I love the before and after – it never ceases to amaze me what a big difference paint (and a lot of work) can make!

    • Thanks Robyn! Let us remember this life lesson for our own appearances the next time we have to leave the comfort of our homes and be around people in real life.

  35. I love the finished result! We have a vanity that someone obviously built out of plywood or something in our bathroom, which was PEACH. Yes, everything was peach colored! I painted the walls lavender, the wainscoting grey, and sanded and painted the vanity white along with adding new knobs to it. Long story short-I need a new vanity.

    • PEACH! Classic 80s! The kitchen in my first house was peach and blue. Reminded me of a Tampax box. Hated that kitchen. Your lavender/grey/white bathroom sounds very pretty! I love gray.

  36. Yeah, he can suck it!!! Um….that doesn’t sound right, somehow!!! ๐Ÿ˜›

  37. I love it! I’m one who prefers color to white and I think it looks very classy. As to the knobs, I laughed a lot. Before I got married I thought my husband wouldn’t care one bit about “girly” things like that. Well, he does, and I’ve come to realize that his opinion is usually solid. Enjoy your new knobs. ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Your knobs and your vanity go together perfectly. Maybe your husband will appreciate your new racks?
    (Awesome post – really did laugh out loud ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  39. It is hard to describe how much I love this post – I am the Daniel Son to your Sensei. I have only been working on my bathroom for 2 years . . . and I’ve lost interest and want to move on to the kitchen. I love that you have been working on this for 4 years and did not have the patience to special order the knobs. That is exactly what I did on the chests that took me about a decade to finish (and yes, I wrote about it).
    I do like the second knobs better. It pains ME to admit your husband was right and I don’t even know him.
    I love the dimension of the chalk paint. It looks like a soft black to me. But this wax? Is it sticky like, well, wax or is it more like a polyurethane?
    Well done! Brava, Lady!

  40. That’s a nice set of knobs you got.

    (LOVED this post, thanks for making a tough week a little less so!)

  41. Your knobs have gotten smaller, and flat, what’s up with that?

  42. I can’t get over the fact that you installed the drains and the faucets yourself.
    Cannot even fathom how that sort of thing is done.
    I’m better at shopping. Ahem.

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