Friday, 22 February 2013

How to Re-Do a Diabolically Disastrous Bathroom

What on Earth to do with a Bathroom that looks like this?


It is difficult to find inspiration in a room so ugly. 

In fact on the day we first moved into our 1878 house in Stratford nearly two years ago, my reaction was clearly unenthusiastic.  The outside of the house, definitely beautiful, bay windows, yellow brick and large back garden, but the moment we turned the key in the lock and stepped inside, a near panic took over me.  I watched in horror as my husband gleefully charged from room to room with a child's excitement comparable to acquiring a brand new colouring book, crayons and the masterpieces he would create!

Whereas, it took all I could muster to Not shout out, "What the F* was I thinking when I agreed to this?"  I couldn't find anything appealing.

"What's wrong love?"  He asked me with concern, as I viewed the filthy yellow hallway and warped wood floor.  I went from room to room, with this fanatical smiling granddad (yes, he's a grandpa) whose passion overflowed with his endless ideas of knocking down walls, stripping wood, etc.  Somehow I'd been talked into this nightmare of a renovation, by this man who was clearly off his rocker!  Every room was either neon green, yellow or a sickly faded lilac and yes, I know it's only paint, but there was also oddly creepy floral wallpaper, next to 70's psychedelic decor along with grimy linoleum floors.

Obviously someone had gone insane in this house and so, must be haunted as well!

Even the Bell Telephone guy said, "You actually bought this place?"  As he waded through red furry carpet to install a phone line to baby blue cubed wallpaper.

"Ah, yeah, we did.  My husband does wonders."

"Really!"  He replied, watching the white haired guy dance about.

I faked a smile trying to re-evaluate why I had agreed.

That night we slept in sleeping bags on the floor, (freshly scrubbed with lysol).  I didn't dream of anything because I couldn't sleep.  I'm over 50, and couldn't get comfortable, "I hate camping!" 

"Aren't you excited!"  Said Grandpa.  Then I had to listen to him prattle on in the dark about how he'd re-direct pipes, upgrade electrics and replace sinks.  I kept my mouth shut and wondered, Why couldn't we buy a place that already had this taken care of?  We've done this before! 

The next morning, I looked to the windows and high ceilings and remembered.  Especially when I climbed the purple stairs and clutched the romantic sweeping banister.
Underneath all this bad taste, there once lived a beautiful house.  I was enchanted by the fact that all the main rooms, even the bathroom, did not require heavy curtains or frosted glass.  Overlooking some lovely evergreens, a Victorian style Turret and a pathway, winding round a senior's retirement home created a feeling of privacy, even at this busy intersection.  And I had definitely fallen in love with the staircase and determined to restore this architectural wonder as best as I was able. 
(For the Staircase Reno you can read about on a previous blog.  link right here)....

Anyway, when I decide to Re-Do any room in my house, of course I always consult with my live-in HandyMan.  His genetic make-up of part-enthusiastic child, part super-talented renovator definitely enhances and makes the job go much easier.  As long as I keep him supplied with endless cups of tea and biscuits, he's very happy.  Then he consults with me on what I hate most of all. 
And because this blog is about the Bathroom, the first hateful thing was the sink.  No explanation needed, even the most green friendly renovator would have no use for this sink.  I contemplated using it in my garden as a planter but decided against it.

 The next was the light fixture.  Looking like a bizarre type of Alien Bug! (it even buzzed), the three bulbed wonder also had to go.  (Another indicator that the previous owner was insane)

In trying to renovate on a tight budget, we were alarmed that there wasn't much to save in this bathroom.  The previous owner must have owned shares in the Caulking company!  There must have been at least three gallons of the stuff around the toilet. Or perhaps he applied the gooey putty while under the influence and in paranoid fear of leakages.

A Caulking Marvel

In any case, we decided to try and save the bath.  Once my Handyman husband removed the over zealous caulk, we began to scrub the yellowy build-up of soap scum and stains only to discover that the original polyurethane protective covering had never been removed!  So we were actually trying to clean a piece of plastic paper.   How lovely!  The tub and shower stall were practically brand new once we peeled this off!


Above the bathtub, on the ceiling, strange as it seems, was a sign to the gates of hamburger heaven, and we wondered where it led to.  I hoped for secret treasure or money stash!  (as this happened to a friend of mine once while renovating a fireplace) but alas, it only led to an unfinished dirty attic.

But my brilliant Handyman came up with the idea of installing a staircase and thus opening up the attic for a further two rooms. It was decided that this must be incorporated while the bathroom was in a state of renovation and so a short break was taken from the bathroom in order to build the stairs, which I will write about in another blog.

Next was the floor, an old cracked brown linoleum which was ripped up with little effort.  Thank goodness the previous owner did not use the same black superglue which refused to let go of the linoleum in our kitchen reno.

The next challenge for my cheerful Handyman, (a little swearing involved) was what to do with the black pipes next to the toilet, which facilitate the sewer vent system.  They were intrusive and were too close to the toilet.  It was decided for budget reasons, to simply box them in and then move the toilet over a couple of inches.  This was the most difficult part of the bathroom reno, as a hole had to be cut in the floor and the main toilet pipe extended over to meet up with the base of the bowl.  Luckily my Handyman was able to complete this within one day and the dry walling on the next day.

Two blocks from our house is a plumbing supply place (Pounders) where all necessary pipe, connectors could be purchased.  It was at Pounders that we also found a lovely sink and cabinet in a Victorian style, that was normally $650!   Way too much for us, but had recently been marked down to $300.  It fit beautifully into the spot where the old yucky sink had been.  Next we shopped around for black and white tiles.  We found some white subway style tiles on sale at Home Depot, and our floor tiles, a bit more expensive but on sale as well, hexagon mosaic with black diamond highlights.  A perfect compliment to our style of house.

I chose a steely gray paint for the walls and a ridiculous huge mirror hangs above the sink, catching the morning sunrays from our paint stripped window.  We removed the shower curtain and purchased a plexi glass sliding door (also on sale) 
We love it!  So, what do you think?
BEFORE with pipes now boxed in.












  1. Well he's done a good job - as usual. Paul is soon to start on our house, I'll show him this so he knows he's not alone!