Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bathroom Renovation - Before & After ... Form & Function













I could stop there - the before and after photos tell quite a story! Looking back, I'm not sure why we lived with the old bathroom for as long as we did. It was disgusting, and I can't believe we actually thought we were getting clean in there!

Or I could entertain you with the stories and play-by-play of all of the events and drama that surrounded this project - its expanding scope, the dirty demolition, the sledge hammer that went through the wall, the hacked up floor joists that needed total reinforcement, the oddly sloping floors, ceiling, and plumbing, the fired tile guy, the suddenly-soured relationship with the contractor, the leaky ceiling, the long working weekends, the sleepness nights, the stress... Trust me - there are so many stories to tell that it would take as long as the renovation itself (two months)!

But instead I'll focus on the positive - it's DONE! Everything looks and works great, and we love our design and the functionality of every detail we chose! I'll highlight our favorite features, detail our decisions, and explain why this tiny little space works for us...

Slate Tile
This is an incredibly affordable option at Lowe's. Stock tile, right off the shelf at less than $2 a square foot. We love it's natural look and the dark color and uneven texture hide a lot. Plus, there's radiant heat under there - a programmable thermostat should make it an inviting place to wake up to this winter!

White Subway Tile
Again, another affordable option at Lowe's and Home Depot. We had to get a little creative with the bullnose pieces, and it required a special order, but all of that tile cost us less than $350! And we tiled every wall, floor to ceiling! We did this because we were tired of dealing with the peeling paint and mold, even though our new bathroom fan/light should solve that problem. But now cleaning is a breeze - all of the walls can simply be wiped down.

Cedar Planking Ceiling
The ceiling was covered with a tongue-and-groove planking that we stained with Minwax Golden Oak (two coats) and Sikkens (two coats), an outdoor, waterproofing stain. This should give it a durable finish that will resist and moisture issues. Plus we love the spa-like feel that it lends to the bathroom.

Deep Soaker Tub
Our old tub was the original cast iron tub. It was scratched and chipped, and while it is possible to recoat them, we were advised that it never lasts very long. Plus, we wanted to remove the plastic bath surround from the walls, and figured if we were going to go that far, we might as well take it down to the studs, ensure that there were no moisture issues, and start from scratch. And if we were going to start from scratch, than we were going to do things right - a 22" deep soaker tub! The drop-in style tub is framed in, and the front edge provides a great place to sit.

Price Pfister Ashfield Tub/Shower Kit
I fell in love with the country pump style and the rustic pewter color of this bath collection a long time ago. And then one day I stumbled upon it on clearance and it was gone. But it's always worth asking, and the Lowe's employee offered me the store model off the wall for $25 (originally about $200)! It was especially worth it when I found out that a few of the defective parts could be replaced under warranty for free!

IKEA Lillangen Vanity & Sink and Price Pfister Ashfield Faucet
Of course one of my favorite home stores would carry a vanity just perfect for our space! Our bathroom is small, and square footage is at a premium. So when we found a vanity just 16" in depth, we were thrilled - this thing doesn't protrude into the doorway like the old one did. Plus it's 36" tall and up on legs, which allows you to belly right up to it without stubbing your toes or having to hunch over. The clean lines, and clutter-discouraging trough design fit perfectly with the modern, yet natural and rustic country style that we were going for.

You would think that those wooden boxes were made to fit inside those nooks, but they were actually in the garden section at IKEA. We stained them so they would resist water and moisture, and they allow us to separate all of our bathroom necessities by function. Need to brush your teeth - everything you need is in a devoted box! Contact lenses - that's another box! And there are twelve of them!

Kohler Reve Toilet
Ok, so go ahead and make the square butt remark! While we thought this toilet was really cool-looking, we actually splurged on it for different reasons. Its design is called a concealed trap - you don't see all the drain piping on the side of the toilet, or those silly screws that stick up. Which means there's no place for dust and hair to gather, and wiping down the smooth sides is a breeze. We're all about making cleaning easier! It is also flush (pun intended) with the wall, eliminating those oh-so-fun behind-the-toilet cleaning adventures! Plus it's a dual flush - yup, number one and number two buttons! (In case you were wondering, the buttons aren't labeled, one is just politely larger than the other)! It uses just .9 gallons for a small flush and 1.6 gallons for a large flush, much less than your average 3 or more gallon flush on old standard toilets. So this thing is estimated to save us $100 a year! And it hasn't clogged yet (knock on wood)!
Storage and Harbor Breeze Bath Fan/Light
Much of our storage is open, which discourages clutter, and we make sure everything has its place. The towel bars and wall shelf are from IKEA, stained in Sikkens for waterproofness. The mirror is also from IKEA and has a small ledge to perch things on while getting ready in the morning.
We were fortunate enough to work with a contractor willing to make any of my crazy ideas work. So he built the open shelves in the corner out of red oak to my specifications. He also built us a bench under the shelves. It's tiled on the front for a continuous look with the tub, but it has a wood lid that lifts up to reveal a wood-lined box for toilet paper and paper towel storage, and plumbing access should we ever need to get under there.
Finally, instead of having shelves that protrude into the shower, I wanted nooks recessed into the shower wall. Pre-fab boxes were anchored into the new drywall and studs and then tiled around for a clean look.
Also shown in the final picture is a new bath fan/light. It adds a great amount of light behind the shower curtain, but also sucks out all the moisture too! It's nice and quiet, and the bathroom doesn't steam up at all - no more drippy walls and mildew, just nice dry, clean walls and mirror!
Once we started the project, we quickly realized that our old bathroom was a ticking time bomb. It's a wonder that our old cast iron tub didn't fall into our dining room - once we realized how bad the supporting floor joists were, we're glad they're fixed now! And the mildew on the walls was a health hazard for our growing family - we removed every last bit of moldy plaster walls. While asthetics was important too, every decision we made regarding this tiny little bathroom was well thought out. We think we've created a space with the perfect balance of form and function!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Big Changes To A Small Space

A while back, I mentioned a mystery project going on behind plastic sheeting. I was going to leave all of the work up to the Handy Hunk, but we quickly realized that this series of projects was going to be more involved than we thought – far too much work for even the manliest of men to handle by himself within the time frame available. He was going to need a woman’s help. And let’s be honest, was I really going to be able to just sit back and watch?! So with my pregnancy energy returning, even surging beyond normal levels, I dove right into the nesting – with a professional grade respirator mask, of course!

This is actually just the first of a series of projects. The office, which formerly took up an entire bedroom, has been moved into the walk-in closet off of the bedroom so that the bedroom can become the nursery. In addition to a small renovation and some decorating, it required some serious organizing – just a few of my favorite things!

We started with a walk-in closet of one of our bedrooms. It was a dumping ground for anything and everything we didn’t want to look at on a daily basis. This was formerly a second floor sleeping porch, made into great usable space by the previous owner. But the drywall job was awful and the carpet was covering up who-knows-what. And we were definitely not using the space to its potential.

So the demo work began. This is where I was left on one side of the plastic sheeting, listening to the Handy Hunk’s grunts and groans and wondering what it looked like behind that awful drywall mess.

He found awkward stud spacing and depth, improperly installed and moist insulation, and a little bit of rotten wood from a previous roof leak. On one wall, removing the drywall revealed the siding of our house.

In order to use this space as our new office, it was going to need an electrical outlet and cable access for the modem. This is when we called the professionals. For an extremely reasonable cost and less than an hour of labor, The Electric Connection installed an electrical outlet and cable jack exactly where we wanted them.

Then it was time for drywall. We’ve done it before, but we despise it, and the space had a number of challenges – small, a sloping ceiling, and varying stud depths. Again, it was time to call a professional. With a recommendation from a friend, we found a guy willing to squeeze us in one weekend, and he got the job done a lot quicker than we would have.

Pulling up the carpet revealed old linoleum tiles. Removing them is a no no – they often have asbestos in them. Covering them up is a better plan, so we put down some ply.

Then baseboards and window and door trim.

Time for paint! We started with a magnetic chalkboard wall! If you’ve never heard of this before, you must consider it for your next large or small project. The magnetic paint is actually a primer and can go under any color – imagine the possibilities! The chalkboard paint goes on dark and flat. Both are available in quart size cans at almost any hardware store. We found ours near the spray paint at Lowe’s.

Ceiling, walls and trim painted.

We put the same shelving back up.

We added more light to the whole space. The low voltage wire allowed us use the wall sconce light connection to stretch five halogen bulbs the length of the room. The Handy Hunk actually had to install an electrical box to make room for the wired connection at the wall, because the old wiring simply came through a small hole in the wall. To do this, of course, he had to purchase a new tool! I have to admit, the keyhole saw attachment for his new Dremel is pretty nifty.

New carpet tiles went down over the plywood subfloor. Check out FLOR for some fun ideas! It was a happy coincidence when I found these on clearance for half off – they were exactly what I had in mind but couldn’t find in the regularly priced options!

Then the decorating and organizing began. Our old desk fit perfectly along the back wall and left enough space for a new filing cabinet. We previously had four stacking file bins of file and consolidated down to two drawers. I’m a packrat, a very organized packrat, but I had to draw the line somewhere. This required some serious purging, but I also hesitate to completely get rid of some things. Anything that I wanted to keep, I tried to digitize whenever possible. (Really this topic deserves another post another day, so I won’t go into the details). Out of six bookcases, two tall ones stayed in the bedroom for the nursery, and two short ones were placed under the shelves in our new office space. This meant that all of the college textbooks and binders of notes (see – packrat – we didn’t get rid of anything!) had to go somewhere else. They’re currently in the basement while we try to decide what to do with them next. The printer cart from the old office space had to go, but the printer fits perfectly on top of the new file cabinet. The boxes on the upper shelves contain all of the office supplies, art and craft materials, greeting cards, computer cords, and camera accessories, each organized by use and function. The desktop computer remains on the desk for now. The magnetic chalkboard displays pending projects, cards, and invitations for upcoming events. And announces the name of our most important upcoming event – the arrival of our little boy in July!

We hope for this space to continue to evolve. What is now an office, closet, and toy storage will someday become a special playroom hideout with plenty of space to play, do art and crafts, and store toys. (Imagine this little nook behind the closed curtains, with a little stepdown from a child’s bedroom, full of creative toys and projects). In the more immediate future, we plan to remove one of the short bookcases to make more closet space for little August’s clothes. (More organizing and digitizing files is in the works). In the more distant future, we’d like to add a small office workspace to our kitchen and upgrade to a laptop, eliminating the need to use this space as an office at all, and making more space for toys and games. The art and craft materials and maybe even the desk will remain, and surely the magnetic chalkboard will be put to creative use! Let’s just hope that the chalk stays on the one wall!

A few resources:

Paint: Valspar eggshell in La Fonda Villa Fountain, Valspar Magnetic Primer, Valspar Chalkboard Paint, all from Lowe's
Computer Desk & Bookshelves: Crate & Barrel
Lighting: Termosfar from IKEA
Storage Boxes: Bigso from The Container Store, Kassett from IKEA
File Cabinet: Target
Desk Chair: garage sale
Carpet Tiles: “Aqua” from FLOR

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Featured: Columbus Underground

So we busted our butts and got it done before Anne from Columbus Underground stopped by last weekend!

The feature offers a sneak peak at the nursery (and our piece-of-crap cat even managed to sneak into the picture)! I'll post more about the process once we complete everything - just a few small projects left, and then we'll add the baby in just 19 short weeks or so! The part of the room to undergo the most transformation and require the most work isn't pictured, so there's a lot more to see - that should keep you on the edge of your seat!

You can find the write-up here...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


Martha's (yeah, we're on a first name basis) classic brownie recipe. Then, spread with a topping of 16 oz. of cream cheese (why go light? - it's Valentine's Day), 1 cup of raspberry preserves, and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Cut into hearts and sprinkled with white chocolate chips. Let the sugar coma begin...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Handy Hunk


You thought you'd find a picture of the hunk, didn't you?

Sorry, just his handiwork!

Not much, right? Well here's the hideous before...

Yeah, a much needed change. Still doesn't seem like a big deal - we've changed every other light fixture in the house - just a quick little electrical work, right? Well, one thing we've learned about working on "this old house" is that nothing is ever as simple as it seems. When we took this beauty down, we found nothing but a small hole with the electrical wire poking through - no light box, nothing. That's when I decided it was time to call an electrician.

But my hunk was undeterred. He insisted he could cut out the tongue and groove ceiling, install a pancake box, and hang the ceiling fan properly and safely. So I said "fine," and went inside. You should know that this particularly notable for two reasons: First, I'm not one to relinquish such control, or supervision for that matter - this was pregnancy fatigue at its worst, and I just couldn't muster up enough energy to care. Second, this is just another example of my hunk's increasing skill set and confidence in the realm of home improvement. When we were first married, he could barely hang a picture. I taught him everything he knows about measuring, level and square, and how to use tools he'd never seen before.

So I went inside and fell asleep on the couch, while I listened to him work on the ceiling fan. Every now and then, I'd sit up to take a peek out the window, check out my hunk's sexy work jeans with the strategically placed hole in the rear, see a little bit of progress, and fall back into my pillow. And a little later, I woke up to find TWO new light fixtures on the front porch! Here's some before and after eye candy of the second:

Sorry, the hunk eye candy is for my eyes only!
My hunk is up to even more handiwork these days. He got a new toy for Christmas too, and has already had a chance to try it out. Pregnancy has left me unable to help on the big projects around the house. So a couple of weeks ago, I was left on the other side of the plastic sheeting while I listened to every bang and grunt, wondering what exactly was gong on, and if I really should be trusting my hunk to do this on his own. But I'll reaveal our new big project and all of the details in a couple of days. Yeah, one new blog post in two months is all I can handle right now!