In the interior design or DIY world, there’s nothing quite like the satisfying feeling of seeing your vision translated from the twists and turns of your (sometimes indecisive) brain to reality, right before you in plain sight. These moments are even more gratifying and empowering when your own two hands pull off this feat — and for Emily Cosnotti, her powder room renovation came out exactly as she envisioned and planned when all her hard work was done.
Emily usually has a distinct vision for how she’s setting out to design a room — her entire Pittsburgh, PA home with husband Andy is a testament to her color-saturated yet refined style. With the rest of their 1929 “Tudor-ish” home boasting stunning architectural details (arches, trim, and molding galore), it’s clear that this outdated powder room — with its frills upon frills — didn’t match the other rooms in aesthetic appeal. “I was inspired by recent One Room Challenges and home bloggers adding interest to their walls with trim work,” Emily shares. “I like the texture people are adding to their homes with shiplap but really love the way board and batten takes things up a level. I wanted this to be a project we could tackle on a budget and handle ourselves — with a lot of help from my dad, of course!”
Besides the layers of wallpaper in the small space that needed to be removed (“it was even on the ceiling, with a bonus cherub border!”) to make way for the new design, Emily and her family had to unearth original hex tiles that were covered up with thick vinyl tiles. A precise plan was executed to strategize the layout of the room’s new board and batten siding. “SketchUp is my favorite tool for planning projects in my home and I used it to make a perfectly measured plan for making our board and batten walls,” Emily says. “Thin plywood boards were cut to perfectly cover our definitely-not-plumb plaster walls and were secured with liquid nails and nail-gunned into place. Crown and base trim were added and then the vertical battens were placed. Then it was time to caulk for days and then paint everything in the lovely warm grey color I decided on at the very last minute.”
Sleek accessories with clean lines were added to give the whole room a modern vibe, along with pops of brass to lend both a current and timeless feel to the updated space. The whisper of a grey tone on the board and batten walls is so apt for the space you’d assume Emily agonized over it for weeks, but that’s not how the hue was chosen. “While I planned the board and batten details so carefully, I didn’t apply the same pre-planning to picking a paint color. As the new plywood walls were going up, I struggled over shades of greens and bought a gallon without ever testing it in the space. We all hated it. I spent an hour having it tinted darker and scrapped the whole notion of green in the end, settling on a warm grey instead. My dad likes to tell me I spent more money on paint than materials.”
All told, Emily and Andy have added new skills to their reno repertoire (they have the full how-to here) and a karmic I-told-you-so from none other than Emily’s own advice vault. “The whole process made me more confident in planning and executing more complicated projects in our home,” she notes. “It also made me want to board and batten everything! And it reminded me to always follow the advice I give to others — buy paint samples and test everything!” —Kelli