The bathroom (before)

March 21st, 2011 by: cheyenne

So, I figured that it would take us one, maybe two days to totally demo the bathroom, a day or two to lay and grout the tile, and the last day would be spent replacing sink, faucets, spigots, painting, etc. Maybe we could create a built-in closet as well in the weird little nook behind the tub. That would go up FAST. All we were doing was knocking down the tiles on the walls and replacing it with wainscoting, then replacing the floor and tub surround with tile. I could probably get the entire thing done in two days actually, all by myself.

It took us two days to demo, yes. But then it took us two or three more, one of which was mostly spent standing in our demo outfits staring at the mayhem in confusion and horror. Every time we thought we were finished, we’d decide that it would really be better to just take out the entire wall. That and pick out/remove all the plaster. Of course, we should have gone crazy from the very beginning and tore all the walls straight down to the lathe but I kept thinking we needed to keep it “minor.”

And then of course I decided I hated every single medicine cabinet out there in the world—that is, aside from those adorable little vintage wooden ones. Which are ridiculously expensive, even for the totally messed up ones that need a ton of fixing. I called all the salvage places within 50 miles of Portland (believe me, there are many) and it was not heartening. It’s just a stupid box with a frame and a mirrored door. HOW HARD COULD IT BE?! That’s right. In the end, I decided to build myself one from scratch. It was the only way.

I scouted out a bunch of sinks too at the salvage places but all the cute vintage ones were too big for the narrow bathroom. Or else the spigot would be too low and Joshua rejected them. I waaanted a salvage sink but in the end we bought a totally non-offensive new sink for $32. Which was, of course, cheaper than any of the salvage sinks I had scoped anyway. Blah.

Then there’s the tub. It’s totally chipped and scratched and the finish is stained and dull. We looked into replacing it but the concept of somehow prying free a 500-pound cast-iron tub and wheeling it out without tearing up all the walls and doorframes in the house was making my brain clench. Joshua seemed to feel that this would be a cinch. We looked for a new tub but I hated pretty much all of the cheap options (figures). The Internet told us that you can actually have them refinished and the results are apparently amazing. I’m a little skeptical but we’ll see. We also have been entertaining the idea of doing it ourselves (because we’re stupid like that) with two-part epoxy boat paint, some turtle wax, and a buffer. We’re undecided as of yet but we may just end up shelling out the $400 to have it done professionally. (That’s another thing: everyone told us that it would be no more than $250 to have it refinished but all the quotes I got were running upwards of $400-450. People can be so wrong sometimes.)

What was behind all those walls was scary. Forty year-old mildew stains, three different wallpapers, ancient linoleum (it had an interesting slate-like texture; petrified?), old tiles, old tile backing, mid-century style pink paint, a pair of underwear, weird insulation (?) sheets made of what appears to be hair, and an old wooden domino with a dragon on it.

I did not factor in the fifteen thrillion billion trips to Home Depot and Lowes (because they have different things, damn them) and the time we would waste gazing blankly at the plumbing parts while Ronin went absolutely apeshit with boredom. Ronin does not do well when she senses that our attention is elsewhere. We, in turn, cannot think straight when she is shrieking, “MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! I! WANNA! SEE! THAT! THING! UP! THERE! ON! THE! SHELF!” It’s a vicious cycle that ends up with us spending two hours in the store trying to buy six things, four of which will end up needing to be returned.

[Oh my poor eyes. I had almost forgotten how awful it was.]

Right now we’re focusing on getting the plumbing back to functional before we move in. Currently the toilet is sitting on our back patio next to the giant pile of rubble (we are classy like that). It’s a good conversation piece when introducing ourselves to our neighbors over the back fence. But progress is slowly being made. Joshua is over there right now, battling the under-sink pipes. We have most of the walls back up, I laid the tile floor and yesterday I grouted. It looks bleeding spectacular. There is hope yet.

10 Comments on “The bathroom (before)”

  1. Karen says:

    You guys are so handy! Look at you all building your own medicine cabinet…

    Can’t wait to see the ‘after’ pics. Oh, and get my house warming invite. :-)


  2. Kresling says:

    I never thought I say this, but: I need some closure on this bathroom remodel.

  3. shanti says:

    if you need any salvage scouted down here, just send a list.

  4. melissa says:

    Yep, that sounds about right.

  5. cheyenne says:

    I feel like this is my big sink moment but I don’t have time to spare. I would love to find thee perfect little bath sink… I may convince Joshua to go sinkless for a couple more weeks while I keep looking. I found a really cool one that is cast iron but it must weigh 150 pounds. Such a small thing too. Part of the problem is that the bathroom is narrow and so the sink can’t stick out too far; most of the sinks I see are too deep. We need to be totally out of the old house in 8 days!! ACK.

  6. Peg Bowden says:

    You know how to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear—-I think that’s how it goes, no? The bathroom will be adorable. So glad you built the medicine cabinet. They all suck, so build your own. Hmmmm…maybe that little nook in back of the tub could be shelves for towels. And shampoo and stuff.
    Like Kresling, I await closure. It’ll be eye-stopping. —Yo Mama

  7. kerstin says:

    Well done on the demolition! I am so excited for you guys and your new house!

  8. Larry says:

    At” the Petite Maison” and others here, they have this long narrow sink in the bathrooms, just for your problem, but the challenge is getting your head over the sink to do your bedtime face wash!

  9. TimeMachine - Slowly exploring the future » Blog Archive » Bathroom is finished (mostly) says:

    […] the gleaming new bathroom! Here are the old photos to compare. I did two-inch hex tile on the floor and wainscoting on the walls where I assumed […]

  10. TimeMachine - Slowly exploring the future » Blog Archive » Kitchen remodel part II (finished, mostly) says:

    […] in person, that is), that the kitchen didn’t seem so bad. And it wasn’t as bad as the bathroom or anything, but I pretty much had it in for the kitchen from the moment I laid eyes on it. I hated […]

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell