Part two of my little birthday celebration for our house is devoted entirely to the bathrooms. Seldom has any home renovation project taken quite as long as these two did. We spent months and months and months working the bathrooms. Months of sleepless nights, gritty floors, cracked fingers, and tears of frustration.
We have two bathrooms, thankfully (I always wonder how people renovate a bathroom when they only have one…). The upstairs bathroom is original to the house, and the downstairs bath was most likely added sometime in the 1940s, taking the place of what was originally a butler’s pantry.
As with the rest of our house, we’ve kept all of the original walls, windows and doorways intact, and have only replaced materials when the existing ones proved unsalvageable or unsafe.
So! Upstairs bathroom first…
As you can see, we decided not to continue with the Disney/Winnie the Pooh theme that the previous occupants had going on.
And just as a reminder that these things don’t happen overnight, let’s take a look at a couple of photos taken during the renovation process:
Yeah. I can still vividly remember the moment when I accepted the fact that I was not going to be able to salvage the original beadboard (it was covered in rock-hard mastic that probably had asbestos in it, and huge sections were completely rotted). I felt like such a horrible person. I was convinced I’d ruined the house. Looking back, of course, that seems ridiculous, but at the time it was traumatic.
The downstairs bathroom was more fun. We trusted ourselves (and Google) to do all of the tiling work, and we really did exactly what we wanted to do with the space—including installing 8′ tall wood paneling and an all-black floor. Yes, there were tears (what can I say, I’m a big, fat crybaby), and it took forever, but having more confidence in our work and not being afraid to trust our instincts really paid off. I speak for us both when I say this is our dream bathroom. It’s tiny, efficient, and happy.
I know, that’s a lot of photos! I’m still really proud of this bathroom, though. The upstairs bathroom had great original elements working in its favor (the tub, the sink, the radiator), but the downstairs bath was just…awful. Someone had done a terrible “renovation” on it about 10-15 years ago, and everything was either falling apart, leaking, or totally broken. The only thing we kept was the bathtub. I don’t even have true “before” photos that show the ramshackle sink plumbing in place. It was like a bad gas station nightmare.
We felt like champs when we finished that tiling job (our first!), let me tell you. It took a long time, sure, but it was easy. We didn’t have any special tools or experience, but we forged ahead, and it came out great. Anybody can do this stuff. Sure, hire the pros to do your plumbing and electrical work (unless you’re savvy and sure of your own abilities in that area, which we’re not!) and make sure you get any necessary permits and inspections, but don’t be afraid to trust your abilities to do manual labor and to learn as you go.
Stay tuned for part three!
See also: Five years ago, part one.