Before I get going on the before/after bonanza, a little background on my long-awaited bathroom renovation:
Four amazingly short years ago, in 2006, I moved back to LI from LA to re-inhabit my childhood home that had been passed down to me from my grandparents and my mom. In a bit of a pickle/temper tantrum, I had chosen to stay in LA to finish school and avoid the looming responsibility of said house, which I was too attached to to sell and too post-adolescent to actually want to live in. So for several years it had been loaned/rented out to friends and people found on Craigslist.
Needless to say, upon my return the place was a shithole. But I got lucky actually, those years of being a rental could definitely have gone a lot worse.
Sadly, it was a downhill decline for my poor bath even after I moved back in: water damage, mold, failing pipes, carpenter ants, ugly eighties design–the poor thing was just ravaged, and I had zero dollars to fix it.
After 3 years of feeling helpless, I found the good people at CDCLI through the HUD website, and my 4 years (including one year of applying for and waiting to start their program) of the simple dream of a working sink and a shower with walls became a reality in 4 days of work.
Here you can see some bathroom Befores:
We lost the wall behind the tub during a Thanksgiving Day emergency when the original 50-year-old “hot” knob decided to start spewing water…
That classy inner shower curtain is hiding the other missing wall, this one lost to a carpenter ant infestation. We tore the wall down to take out the beam they had made a massive nest in.
This picture, if you can believe it, makes it look much better than it was, though you can get an idea of how the wall behind the toilet was also rotting away due to repeated water damage from the leaky sink.
Monday : Gutted bath
New plumbing, tub, concrete board – the works!
Tuesday : Tile
Concrete board and dry wall finished and tile begun…
Wednesday : Electric and more tile
Hump day: While tiling continued in the bath, the electrician came to switch out our so not up-to-code old-school fuse box, and install new outlets. We also got a sweet new exhaust fan and an outlet in the bathroom!
Love my classic white hex tile floor, but quickly realized I’ll hate cleaning it.
Thursday : Grout and fixtures = finished!
My first look – pardon the table lamp plugged in until we got halogen bulbs for our new wall sconce.
I worked with CDCLI to supply some materials courtesy of my awesome and generous boss Felicitas Oefelein of FO Design, and my own penny-pinching ingenuity. As we collected more and more bathroom reno-related items, our office/craft room became a storage facility.
Kitty helping me lay out tiles.
Above you can see my attempts at deciding on accent tiles the weekend before they started to work. Using basic Home Depot grade subway tiles (~$0.80/sq. ft.) with a bit of mosaic accent tile was a great way to do something beyond a contractor-grade basic bath without spending a ton.
The accent I wound up falling in love with was a glass and stone mosaic that, because this is how my life works, was discontinued and nearly out of stock at Home Depot. After trips to 6 stores, I had hunted down exactly 6 3″x12″ pieces (and sadly this was all from the first 2 stores), so I decided to have our contractor cut down each piece into 2″ x 12″ pieces so they would reach around the bath. At $8 a piece this was probably for the best, as this accent wound up being a $50 splurge!
But I love the blending of modern and classic these give the room; it helps to bridge the gap between the traditional white subway tiles and white hex floor tiles, and my super-modern (super-affordable) Ikea vanity.
Better than I ever imagined…
After the After
Like most renovations, this one’s lingering on the brink of done. We still need a kickass medicine cabinet—I’m saving up for the biggest mirror as I can buy. I’d also like to install a cubicle track for the shower curtain as an upgrade from the $8 target tension rod we through up there. And there might be a really awesome wallpaper taped to the wall to “try out.”
Ed. note: For the reno purists out there, we did salvage the original hamper, and I’m hoping to give it a fresh coat of paint and install it in the storage closet or master bedroom. It’s an awesome original piece, but so not a good idea for a bathroom—dirty items, humidity, you get the idea.
Also, this entry will be launching a side blog about the slow road to renovation on my childhood home over at Surburban Archeology. Not really having a clue what I want this blog (much like my real life) to be about, I might be posting things in duplicate, or there may be more detail over there. We will see where it goes….