(I originally wrote this post last spring, but am just getting around to posting now)
The house we live in was built in 1967 and very little has been done to update it since then by us or the previous owners. When we moved in, all we did was paint the walls and replace the carpet – and that was 15+ years ago. It’s very functional for the most part.
Most of our money/effort has gone into transforming the yard which is where my passion lies. When we moved in, we had a couple of trees taken out that pretty much decimated the lawn. So, we had a blank slate to work with and I’ve spent plenty of time making gardens, adding lawn (which I’m starting to take out now) and building the bee yard. So while the house has great curb appeal, the inside has lagged behind.
When my dad died a couple of years ago, we inherited a little money and while the bulk of that is going towards our kids’ education, we also decided it was high time to make some updates to the interior of the house. Although Diana deserves one of the finest kitchens to go with her superb culinary skills, we opted to update the 2 bathrooms since it would be cheaper. (Plus she reminds me that an excellent chef can make a gourmet meal on a hot plate if need be – at least our kitchen is a little better than that). Our 50 year old bathrooms were definitely dated (I was hoping for that style to come back around, but alas no) and you couldn’t get parts for the shower faucets anymore. You could either have water pressure or hot water – but not both. Over the years, I’ve replaced the sink faucets and a toilet, but not the infrastructure. Definitely time for an update.
Our bathrooms are small, but mirror images of each other (they share a common wall). All we really wanted was to have a more modern and functional bathroom – not add in bells and whistles like jetted tubs. Toilets that flushed, sinks that drained, hot shower with pressure – that’s all we really needed. The old bathrooms had tile on all the walls and ugly linoleum flooring. We wanted tiled floors and only tile in the shower/bath area. I also wanted a rain head shower – I first had one of those in Australia in 1999 and have been wanting one every since. They are not very water efficient, but boy do they feel good.
This was our first encounter in dealing with contractors. We got some references from some friends and started the process of getting bids. We settled on Brent from Roots Construction. (website is down at the moment) He had done some work for one of my colleagues and Diana and he hit it off. (Brent knew some people up at the Shoshoni Ashram.) We’ve become friends in the process and he’s been great to work with – I highly recommend him. Next, we had to figure out what we wanted in the bathrooms.
I hate shopping in general, but trying to figure out what I wanted in tile design was just overwhelming. I have no sense of artistry or color matching (due to my colorblindness). The only requirement I had was that we needed some hexagonal tiles to satisfy my bee fetish. I had seen some honeycomb flooring at my friend Anne’s house and knew I wanted something like that. I would have done the whole bathroom in honeycomb, but that would have been a little over the top.
The project started in November on the kids/guest bathroom. My son Patrick went to college this year, so we needed to have an nice bathroom to go with the new empty (guest) bedroom. I was impressed that the demo took only a few hours and thought, maybe I could save some money by doing the master bath demo myself. I used to change the oil in my car by myself, but then I realized that I could pay someone to do it for me for under $30. When I thought about how much my time is worth, I decided that it was well worth the money to pay someone else to do this. Same goes for the bathroom demo. They had to crack the old cast iron tub in half to get it out – that would have taken me a whole day!
It took about 7 weeks to finish the remodel due to the Thanksgiving break and busyness of the contractors. All the sub-contractors were great. I was particularly impressed with Aaron from CustomExpressions who did a masterful job with tile work (and our guest bath nook made it into his photo gallery!) I’d always defer to his sense of artistry in designing the layout and it came out great.
And, I got my honeycomb flooring!
The master bath was a sore spot for me. When we first moved in, I re-grouted all the tile which was a chore way beyond my liking. Removing the old grout was a pain – the tiles were so close together that normal tools didn’t work. And they were small tiles which meant there was a lot of grout to remove. Over the years, mold started growing on the tiles that was impossible to remove. It wasn’t an appealing place to try to get clean.
After the new year, we started on the master bath. We told Brent we wanted this one to go faster than the other and he said he’d try to do what he could. My old boss used to say that you might want things to go fast, but TTT – Things Take Time. And, so it was with the master bath. Things have to be done in a certain order, and it still took 5 weeks to get the majority of the work done. But, at least we had the nice new guest bathroom to use while this one was in progress!
For the master bathroom, we took out the tub and replaced it with just a shower. The back wall has a vertical strip of hexagonal tiles for my bee theme. It looks like it should have a waterfall constantly running over it. That would have been cool.
One nice thing about redoing the bathrooms is that we changed from 50-year-old water hogging toilets to low flow ones which should save some water. And our city has a $50 rebate/toilet when you switch these out ($100/toilet if you get dual flush), so I ended up with a $100 credit on our utility bill. I initially wanted dual flow toilets (which I also first encountered in Australia), but settled for single flush/low flow. Since we live in a drought prone area (and Diana grew up in California), we adhere to the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” philosophy, so if we are only flushing for #2 with low flow, I don’t see the point of dual flush. (Maybe that’s a little TMI). Hopefully, these new toilets will offset my increased water usage from the rain head shower.
I no longer cringe when I get in the shower now. My biggest challenge is to not stay in there too long (which I do on a daily basis).