The Bathroom Renovation

Our house is old. When Rob’s mom bought it, she was told it was built in the 1940s.  Come to find out that it was actually built sometime in the 1930s, and there are no blueprints available because there was a flood at some point in the city’s history, and they were lost in that.  But neighbors across the street built their house and said ours was built after theirs.

All of this is stuff I’ve been told, since I wasn’t any part of choosing or buying the house, since it happened about ten years before I moved here.

And there are so many other stories about this house.  Some pertaining to changes and fixes since it was bought, some about before.  Like the bathroom.

When Rob likes to tell the story, he figures a previous owner had a set of the Time Life home improvement books. And used them.  Example–the wiring for the upstairs floor has two breaker switches.  Common sense says that one would be for two rooms and one would be for the other room and the bathroom.  Yeah, no.  Far as we’ve been able to figure, everything is on one, except for one outlet in my writing room.  Though it somehow seems like that got screwy and now it’s one plug in the one outlet, but that one plug no longer works.  We know this because of having air conditioners, tvs, computers, and other stuff all running in three different rooms in the summer.


I’m not great at the panoramic photo thing. The sink really wasn’t that wonky shaped.

So, the bathroom.  It was brown.  Like dark beige brown.  The tile, the tub, the insert, the toilet, the walls above the tile.  I think the floor tile and the vanity were the only things that weren’t.  It was like being inside a sand dune.  And the tub–it was all kinds of screwy.  The drain’s on the righthand side.  The faucet and knob were on the back wall.  And the showerhead was on the lefthand side. The top of the righthand wall of the bathtub had some weird thing going on with the tile so it wasn’t straight.  The overhead light stopped working, so we stopped using it and started using the sconces over the vanity.  IMG_4140

We knew it was gonna be an expensive job, and that the room needed to be gutted. We had no clue what the plumbing or wiring was gonna be like, or the floor and subfloor.

So we got a contractor, got all the stuff we needed, and got an expected start date of beginning of January.  Then the contractor had space open and started work at the beginning of December.  We only had to go out and buy the tub, the vanity and sink, and toilet.  And a few other bits and pieces as they came up.


Already an improvement.

The bathroom was gutted.  Under the tile, there was a layer of plywood.  Under the plywood was hardwood, but it was in crap condition and also got pulled up.  The subfloor was in pretty good condition.  The plumbing had to be redone–all cast iron.  The electrician found an outlet beside the window.  We never knew it was there because it was covered over by tile, and probably also the wall put up over the plaster wall.

So we got all new insulation, new wiring–the overhead light had stopped working because the wires had broken and frayed, and the box had a bit of corrosion on it–new plywood over the subfloor, PVC pipes, new walls, everything.  The shower plumbing was all moved to one side, and we paid a little extra to get tile instead of another insert.  We’d wanted to do an inset shelf in the shower wall, but depth of the wall or something kept that from being a viable option, so instead we got a couple of shelves in the back corner.  I think it looks better than the original idea would have.

Some stuff didn’t come out quite as good as the contractor wanted–the light over the vanity wasn’t perfectly centered, a couple of tiles weren’t quite straight, he couldn’t clean the edges of the window as well as he’d like.  But really, with what we had, those were such minor quibbles.

IMG_4953The bathroom came out great, and I think it was definitely worth the money.  There are still a few things to do–we’re probably gonna get some kinda shelving unit/tower thing for the alcove, and curtains haven’t IMG_4950yet been put up.  The new and shiny hasn’t quite worn off yet, so it still almost feels like a hotel bathroom.

Except for the cat litter.


Things done: new plumbing, new electric and lights, one light includes a fan, new insulation, new walls, new plywood, vinyl woodgrain look floor, new tub, new and bigger sink and vanity, bigger mirror, new trim around the doors and window, new baseboards, new paint, new toilet, cabinet over the toilet instead of a medicine cabinet, new towelbars.

More photos are in an album on Flickr.

About Rachel

I'm a writer in progress, and in my day job I copyedit/solve puzzles.
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