How to dress cool under the heat dome

By Abby and Elle

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & DesignWith half of the U.S. under a dangerous heat dome this weekend, it’s going to be hard to stay comfortable unless you get naked and stay indoors with the AC blasting (not such a bad gig).

But if you must leave the house, stay as cool as possible by wearing natural fibers. For example, silk is a great breathable, lightweight fabric that helps keep you cool even when the temp is rising.

No silk? Cotton and  linen are two other solid choices for sweltering days.

I wore this silk skirt on Friday, and I felt cool all evening, even though I don’t have AC at home. I know. Ordinarily it’s not a problem, but this weekend will put me to the test!

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design

Believe it or not, I think I bought this skirt at Vintage Ohio, the local summer wine festival. Although Ohio wines generally are too sweet for my palate, it’s a fun event because 1) you spend the day outdoors at Lake Farmpark — be sure to stop and say hello to the resident pigs, sheep and chickens, 2) everyone’s a little pie-eyed and happy, and 3) you can indulge in shopping opportunities with local vendors/artisans.

The event is in early August, so there’s still time to get tickets!

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design

I don’t have to tell you that it’s hot out there, so stay hydrated, stay cool, be safe.

Bath/shower reno — and an eleventh-hour upgrade

IMG_2069By Elle

Whoa, it’s been a busy few weeks, and this week I’m babysitting the three-year-old Human Wrecking Ball. She looks innocent enough, with her big blue cow eyes and red curls, but look out. I finally scolded her after she sat on my coffee table and knocked over my flower arrangement for the third time in so many days. She walked into the next room with her head down, and I was all too happy to have a few moments of peace.

After a few minutes, however, I knew I better find out what she was up to. She was quiet for too long. She appeared in the doorway after I called her, holding out her finger. “Oh, crap,” I thought. I called her over and asked, “What happened to your finger?”

She held it right up to my face, and said, “A booger.”

And how’s your week been?

Thank goodness we finished the bathroom/shower renovation before the Human Wrecking Ball arrived. One of the final touches was a clear glass panel above the knee wall to provide natural light and a shield from splashing water. But that’s not the cool surprise that I thought of doing at the very last minute. Thanks goodness our contractor, Dan Djuric, was on board. I love that man. He didn’t even blink.

Check out the photos below for a description of what we did — and what we wish we would have done. Remember to let me know what you think!

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

Photo of the clear glass panel installed above the knee wall. In hindsight, we wish we would have done the entire shower in the larger white tile that you see on the wet wall. Or perhaps chosen a white grout for the subway tile. It’s just too busy, defying the clean Asian style to which we were aspiring.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

Another view of the clear glass panel, which I think looks terrific over the glass tile “waterfall” that runs from the ceiling and over the knee wall.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

We installed a solid piece of marble as the threshold.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

Here are the swing doors that we installed in the new doorway that now runs between Mom’s bedroom and the bathroom. We used hinges that swing both ways so that Mom can push her way through no matter which way she’s headed. The doors, which we “stole” from a closet in our dining room, originally folded open, which is why there’s only one doorknob. I wanted to make sure the doorknobs weren’t in her way before I bought another.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

We installed a new light switch for the bathroom in Mom’s bedroom, which has a seaside/beach theme. The switchplate is from Mermaid in Cali, which you can find on Etsy. I already had a complementary one in Mom’s bedroom — love them!

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

Bought hardware for the Kraftmaid built ins from, you guessed it, Lowe’s. Opted for something simple to stick with the Asian feel of the room.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

This lovely shelf is perfect for all Mom’s important stuff, like Kleenex and a ceramic shell filled with more shells.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

I love the wall color we chose. Totally matches my Asian mirror. In the reflection, you can see a portrait of a girl that Mom drew.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

Close up of the portrait of a girl.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

And now for the surprise upgrade! I thought, “Hey, the ceiling above the shower would look sweet in natural wood.” The easiest install was to use engineered hardwood flooring, and we chose wide-planked Brazilian Koa.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

We opted for a rainfall showerhead to help reduce splash. This gadget, PULSE Lanikai 3-Way Chrome Shower Bar System, was about $250 from Lowe’s.

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion bath/shower reno

To top off the Asian feel, I hung this strand of paper cranes that my friend Adrienne gave me.

That’s it for the main bathroom/shower reno! Hope you enjoyed the photos. Read the first and second installment of the bath/shower reno if you missed them.

Up next, our dining room floor, which we completely redid in hardwood maple with a cherry border.

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Bath/shower reno, with an eye toward accessibility (days 1 through 3)

IMG_1968By Elle

I moved out of my parents’ house when I was about 18, and now that I’m 53 (ouch), my mom has decided that we need to live together again — I knew she missed me — so she’s packing her bags and coming to our house. (Dad passed away a number of years ago, otherwise he’d definitely be in tow.)

In preparation for this Monumental Event, we determined that we needed to make some adjustments to the house, namely to her new bedroom and bathroom to make things as accessible as possible.

This is one project we couldn’t tackle on our own. For one, we need to get it done post-haste. Since we both work full time, we have only weekends free, which is why most of our DIY projects move at a glacial pace. For two, much of this remodel requires a level of expertise we don’t possess.

Luckily we have a good friend, Dan Djuric, who builds custom homes and does remodeling. (His company is called 4 Star Homes & Construction, and we’re happy to send referrals his way. In a word, he is AWESOME.)

Dan and his team have been at the house for a few days now and have made remarkable progress. And while they’ve been doing all the hard work, we’ve been having fun picking out tile!

First, some before photos:


The shower and built-in seat were too small to be accessible for someone who needs help showering. Not that Mom needs help showering. But if she did ….

Bathroom built-in shelving

To the right of the shower was shelving, which we tore out to extend the shower.

bath down

While the bathroom is deep, it was very narrow. We tore out the wall to the right of the toilet to make a Jack and Jill bathroom. The new doorway leads to the adjoining bedroom.

Day 1: Demolition, framing and prep work. Day 1 involved tearing out the shower surround and busting a hole through the wall to create the doorway into the adjoining bedroom. Here’s why that worked so well: That bedroom, for some peculiar reason, had three individual closets, all in a row. (See photo below.) Luckily, the closets were on the wall shared by the bathroom. By taking out the two closets nearest to the window, we could accommodate a door to the bathroom and still use some of the closet space as storage.

bedroom down three closets

Three closets in a bedroom. Seriously, is that weird, or what?


Now the bedroom has one closet and a door directly to the bathroom. Not really a door, yet. More like a hole.


When you walk through the door and turn to the left, you can see where we have space for shelving and storage.

Days 2 and 3: Plumbing, tiling and prepping the shower. Because we extended the length of the shower, all the pipes had to be re-plumbed. And because we knocked out a wall to widen the bathroom and create another door, the floor, which was formerly two closets, needed to be tiled.

Dan and team installed the concrete backer board and floor in the shower, created a knee wall to accommodate the extended length of the shower (he’s going to add a pane of glass to the top of the knee wall to let in natural light) and created two insets in the shower: one on the side wall and another in the knee wall.


New shower floor membrane.


Here you can see the inset on the back wall and part of the knee wall in front. The pipes hadn’t been moved yet to accommodate the extended length of the shower.

The tile in the inset is an Italian ceramic tile called Waves. We’re going with an Asian theme in this bathroom, and we felt that the earthy colors and gentle movement of the design on the Waves tile conveyed a Zen-like vibe.  Wait until you see what we picked out for the rest of the shower walls and the floor! The goal is to feel like you’re showering outside, without the embarrassment and possible police citation, of course.


Close-up view of Waves. Lovely!!

Anytime you undertake a renovation, you have to be prepared for surprises — and they’re rarely good. Luckily, the only surprises we got were discovering that we couldn’t make the back wall inset wider because of pipes, and we couldn’t bring the doorway inside the bathroom all the way to the ceiling because of a vent. If you look at the photo below, you can see the header above the second doorway. It doesn’t look wrong — just would have been cleaner not to have it. In any case, those are surprises we could handle!


Stay tuned for updates and the finished product, and if you need a contractor you can depend on for a build or a remodel in the Cleveland area, send us an email at or leave a comment!