Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bathroom Remodel

Here was the basement bathroom as it stood at Christmas. I got my dad that Black and Decker housekeeping tool with the rotating parts, and each day he'd go down and scrub a section of the shower. By the end of their stay, grandpa pronounced it merely "really dirty" which was a vast improvement.

But the cabinet was peeling apart in one corner, the linoleum was coming up, the sink was a strange shallow contraption made mostly for shooting water all over the room inadvertently, and the toilet scared small children. So in spite of dad's heroic cleaning efforts, we decided to try our hand at remodeling.

On St. Patrick's Day we tore it apart with some help from Rob's brother Rick, who is far more competent at these things. Then we poisoned Rick with carbon dioxide when he graciously came to help us cut a hole in the foundation to convert from a shower to a tub. It was the literal and figurative low point of the ordeal. Rick spent four hours in the ER breathing pure oxygen so he wouldn't lose brain cells. We didn't bother with that sort of treatment -- Rob held a salon for his students upstairs to discuss Parzifal and had a flourless chocolate torte to finish it off (perhaps the antioxidants in the chocolate ameliorated the carbon dioxide, no?)

Here is Rob showing several of the skills we learned on this trip:
tiling the bathtub surround. We used tiles the size of bedside tables, so they went up fast, but they weighed about 15 pounds a piece.
floating the walls. we learned that you would rather put on several small coats of spackle than have to sand very much off!
putting up backerboard. heavy, dusty, and essential if you're going to put up such heavy tiles.

Here is Kathy (Rick's wife) without whom we would still have a hole in the basement with a cement floor. Even after we tried to kill her husband, the whole family came over one evening after we'd been staring at our navels for about a week not daring to try anything. Within an hour they had prepped the floor and started laying tiles. I was reduced to gopher, and Rob's best help was as dead weight to even out the floor. After watching them, Rob and I figured out what to do next, and we were able to do the tub on our own.

Here is the after shot, now with a tub, and lighting above it. Winners here were:
big tile: good to work with in spite of the weight
Captain Electric: we called them one morning, they showed up in the afternoon, and we had working lights and fan two hours later
the shower door: looks 3 times better and more finished than before.
the granite pre-fab counter with attached sink from Home Depot. easy and reasonably priced.

Here is the new vanity/sink/mirror. The losers were:
the paint. I think this is custom mix/desperate hail mary neutral. Doesn't do much for me, but it spans everything in the color wheel between the granite and the tile!
the vanity. two people told us we'd like the best of the top of the line at Home Depot (by Master Bath), but we are really disappointed with the quality of the hardware, the poor construction, and the pain in the neck they are to deal with. They didn't send us the toe kick or the trim pieces we'd ordered and their stupidity held up the project for months while we tried to get them to do something.
Overall, we took a brown basement bathroom and remodeled it into a brown basement bathroom. However, I can tell it was the right project to tackle, because now we think "why did we do that bathroom first?!" which means we've already forgotten how much worse shape it was in than everything else. Rob is now cogitating on what to do with the other two. I'm still recovering from the trauma of remodeling. As my mom says, "I can either do capital improvement projects, or I can do maintenance, but I can't do both at the same time." Amen.