Finished at last
This project has evolved slowly in many small stages – I had originally considered doing a major overhaul since there were a lot of things not quite to my taste but instead we decided to just dress up what we had – the cost and mess were too much to contemplate and besides its not like what we had was actually broken.
Missing mirrors, silver and gold faucets and old light fixtures – Yuck!
When we first moved in the previous owners had taken the mirrors with them…. so the very first thing we did was go out and pick up a couple from Home Depot with nice silver frames – it is surprisingly difficult to brush your teeth without a mirror LOL!
After that, I bought a couple small teardrop chandeliers to hang over the tub – give it a bit more presence. Of course that meant that we needed to convert the existing recessed cans first. Eric risked life and limb installing them for me while the teen and I assembled the chandeliers (trickier than you would think and likely the reason for the excellent price)
Chandeliers and medallions that replaced the old recessed cans
Once they were up they still needed a little something – so I started looking for ceiling medallions that snapped around already installed fixtures. Eric would have had a nervous breakdown if I asked him to take them down again!
Towel rings and new towels
Oddly enough, there was nowhere to hang hand towels, so I picked up a couple of oil rubbed bronze ones (knowing my future plan to replace the chrome and gold faucets – yuck) some new towels and a mat to go in front of the shower so that the crappy floor tiles were less likely to kill us. For some reason every tiled surface in this house is the same ceramic tile that is completely lethal when wet – a great choice for bathrooms – sigh….
When we first moved in – note the massive chip in the tub
For quite some time, that was it – too many other projects on the priority list. One thing that had bothered me from the start, was that there was only one light fixture to the side of each mirror above the sink – clearly designed by a man – How am I expected to apply make up properly when one side of my face is in shadow???
I had my eye on some cute lights from Possini in silver with a glass dome surrounding some hanging chandelier drops – they matched the fan I put up in the the master bedroom – but they were too expensive. I needed four of them and at $200 a pop that was too spendy for my tastes. I kept an eye on a few websites and saw the prices drop on sale but still held off – then one glorious day there was a flash sale on and they were listed at $99 each so I snapped them up – Yay for being a smart shopper :)
They languished in the boxes for months – eventually Eric put up one of each but we never got around to running the additional wiring for the other too – half my face remained in darkness…
Brassy hinges – Yuck!
We badly needed exhaust fans in all the showers in the house so we splurged on a handyman to come and do all three at once – this would ensure the mildew problem the house had when we first moved in would not reappear….not a glamorous project, but very necessary.
Blechh – old shower door handle
I would love to replace the ugly shower door at some point but since I know that was further down the road, I decided to just gussy up the existing one. However, the splotchy old bronze handle and hinges were just nasty, so I dragged out my trusty oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum spray paint and it gave it a whole new look that has survived really well over the past 6 months of heavy use. I also spray painted the toilet roll holder while I was at it.
Spray painted handle
Spray painted hinges
Little by little it was starting to look a little more presentable. I picked out some stacked stone tile for the wall behind the tub and paint and a stencil for the walls – but I kept putting that off – wanting the new lights to go up first….
Old sink faucets
New oil rubbed bronze – much better
Sad old shower head
Glam new rain head shower and lever
In the meantime, I ordered replacement faucets for the sinks and the shower – lovely oil rubbed bronze thanks to Amazon. They turned out to be easy to replace since I went with the same brand as the old facets and we could leave the existing valves in place. This made a huge difference and the bathroom started to really look good. A month later we replaced the tub faucet and drain – some internet research showed us how to do it. (The key was a smart dumbbell and some brute strength)
Old tub faucet – already updated the overflow and drain
New faucet – Yum!
That just left the shower drain which I have been unable to find an exact replacement for so out came the Rustoleum again – hopefully it will hold up to daily wear and tear until I can find the real deal.
I had plans to tile the wall behind the tub and when Eric got himself a new Dremel, I decided to try it out on the tile needing to be removed.
Demo on wall done
Halfway mark – weekend 1
Final wall tile done – weekend 2
It did a great job but then I needed to go out and buy the spendy stacked stone tile I liked so much to cover it up LOL – that project ended up taking a couple weekends to complete – but I love how it looks – much more elegant! Hard to see in the picture but it is multiple sizes and depths of varied natural stone and marble along with a couple smoky glass tiles.
My closet floor was bare concrete – I guess there had been some issue with the previous owner – don’t know if there was a leak or what – but when we moved in I just pulled up the old carpet strips so I didn’t step on them and left it to make sure there was no water problem. A year and a half later with no sign of a leak I ordered some carpet tiles from Home Depot to stick down to make it look a little more finished and comfortable. They were really easy to install and it was a quick fix.
Before – bare concrete in closet
easy stick down carpet tiles from Home Depot
carpet tiles down
Next up was the tile rug inset on the floor – I wanted to remove some of the old tile and replace with natural stone which is much less slippy but without having to replace all the old tile – I had done a similar thing at our old house in WA and it worked out great. However this was tile laid on concrete slab – much harder to remove than we had hoped.
floor before – death trap tile
After Eric “Dremelled” around the old grout lines, we removed a section 3 x 5 tiles wide and replaced it with the new tile. Demo was of course the hardest part – you need to not damage the tiles you want to leave behind and chip up all the old mastic before laying the new stuff – this is an extremely dusty process so be prepared for the clean up if you try it…
Tile is up – now to chip away all the old mastic
Old tile up and ready to go
Those 15 tiles took all day to remove and there was much frustration and unhappiness all around – it was brutally hard work and the mess was beyond belief. There is a reason professionals charge twice as much to remove old tile than to lay new tile… sigh. Basically get yourself a chisel with hand guard (trust me hammering your own knuckles makes the whole thing even more miserable), a hammer and all the elbow grease and muscle you can muster.
Damage prevention – my pretty lights wrapped in a towel and a plastic bag
Ceramic tile is sharp and shards of it were flying around the room – safety glasses are a must and make sure you protect any light fixtures or breakables while you work.
The all important chalk line
The next day I measure and laid the tile and Eric did all the tile cutting for me – between the two of us it took most of the day. Just crank up the tunes and get to work. When you retrofit an existing floor it is best to start with the outside edges and work in since there is no room for error on sizing.
Snap a chalk line so you match the grout lines around the outside where the original tile is – once you are working on the inside you can go with a different grout size if you prefer – but it will look weird if you mess up the perimeter.
Edging and contrast tiles laid
Tile down – grout to follow
After letting it dry, we sealed and grouted and finally it was done and what a difference it makes the deep chocolate marble accent tiles match some of the darker marble in the tile wall and with the oil rubbed bronze fixtures I loved how it pulled everything together – makes me almost forget the old ugly ceramic tile surrounding it LOL
Paint finished – goodbye sludge green
At last it was time to paint the walls – I had to wait till all the messy stuff was done and I was so glad to be covering up the old green paint. I used Behr’s “woodsmoke” my favorite grey beige. It is a great neutral that works well with both warm and cool colors.
Late night stencilling
The final touch was using a trellis stencil on the wall behind the sink and in the toilet area. I wanted a high end wallpaper look but this felt safer in a high humidity location like a bathroom.
All in all total time elapsed 20 months – actual hours spent working on it – more like a month. Taking it on a bite sized chunk at a time made it more manageable both from a cost and time perspective – better than waiting like a deer in the headlights for the right time to start – that would never have come.
Finished product – looks like wallpaper – tiled wall in mirror
So if you are overwhelmed by the thought of a big project – just start with one small step – it will get you there in the end :) (Still no extra lights by the mirror – maybe next weekend LOL)