Category Archives: Bathroom

Bathroom – Finished Product

Well ladies and gents, it is FINALLY done! It’s been a long road with several delays and dilemmas, but our bathroom has officially been put back together and looks a MILLION times better than it did prior to the renos.

While this project took a lot more time than I originally thought it would, it was time well spent. The bathroom looks simply fabulous! See for yourself!

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BEFORE AND AFTER: 

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I think this speaks for itself. Thanks for following this lengthy process everyone! Stay tuned for more projects 🙂

Bathroom Tub and Tile

Wow. This has been one of the most drawn out projects ever. I am beyond mentally and physically exhausted after this one. Being a full-time attorney and trying to accomplish this bathroom remodel has been tough. BUT, we are finally nearing the finish line!

We finally finished our last DIY job in the bathroom. The countertops have been bought and paid for from Home Depot, so hopefully those will be installed soon and the project will finally be 100% FINISHED! I cannot wait to have my master bath back and finally clean up all the junk in my closet (which is attached).

Everything about this project has been harder than I ever imagined – Nicole Curtis just makes it all seem so easy! The tiling around the bathtub was no exception to this. In fact it probably exceeded every other part of this project in terms of physical labor and mental exhaustion. But, we are finally done and I do have to say that it looks great! I’ll let you know if it was worth it in a couple of weeks when my arms and shoulders stop hurting and I’ve finally gotten a good night sleep with no nightmares about tiling.

For this post, I think it best that I simply give a step-by-step process… I advise that you all read closely and LEARN from my mistakes. Because trust me, there were a lot.

1. Prepping the walls. Easier said than done. The cement board that our contractor installed did not line up with pretty much anything, especially the bathtub. When you are tiling around a bathtub, you actually tile over the lip of the tub. So the concrete board and the tub need to be even to avoid a huge bump or the tile just falling off. With that in mind, my first task was to plaster every area that was not flat in order to ensure a uniform surface. My first mistake was using plaster – I should have used some type of cement like the actual thin set instead. But in the end, the plaster worked OK (and if the tiles fall off the wall it will hopefully be after we sell the house to some innocent buyer…). The surface was, of course, not perfectly level or even, but it was a big improvement from the one inch gap that had separated the cement board and the tub. Also note that we caulked ever screw, nook, and cranny that we possibly could to ensure no water damage later.

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2. Setting the tile. Wowzers. This should just not have been as hard as it was. Because the tile is at a 90 degree angle (or close to it in our case), it is recommended that you go ahead and set the first 3 rows a day in advance to make sure that the tile does not slide down as you build up the wall. This should have been a relatively easy feet, but unfortunately, I hit a lot of setbacks and redos. First of all – as soon as the thinset was applied, the plaster immediately reverted to bright pink. After a minor freak out and phone call to Andy (because for SOME reason I had decided to do this while he was at work), Andy assured me that this was probably still OK and that it would just completely dry again as the thinset dried. Like I said, should still probably have gone with some type of cement instead.

I quickly got the first wall up, but when I went to move onto the next wall, I realized the rows would not be at the exact same height. So… I had to redo the first wall which involves popping all the tile off, scraping the wall, and the backs of all the tiles, and starting again. The next wall involved 2 redos that had to do with levelness and the realization the surrounding walls were not at a 90 degree angle and that I would have to start putting up slivers of tiles if I didn’t readjust initial tile lengths.

After several redos, several life lessons, hair pulling sessions, and shots (not really, just thinking I should have) we finally got the three rows up as level and even as we possibly could. This was a prefect example of trial and error….

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3. After letting the first three rows set up for 24 hours (though I think we got lazy and actually waited 48), we were finally able to put up the rest. While this was not exactly troublesome, it was definitely long and tedious work. Because the tiles are not perfect, we had to stop and check for levelness after ever row (I may have started doing two at a time though). I had bought a score and snap saw for these tiles that I could use because I refuse to use a wet saw in freezing weather. We did this after work, so although it was not particularly challenging, it took us until about 1:00 am to actually finish and clean up. Talk about exhausting.

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4. After another day (or two) of rest, we finally finished tiling with all the trim tile. The mosaic tile is ivory travertine to match the floor. Originally we were going to put chair rail tile at the top, but unfortunately Andy did not really have the tools to finish the chair rail on the edge for the one side where it would show. And chair rail tile is hollow, so it just wasn’t going to work. Someone really needs to sell an end piece for that. We decided to finish with another round of braid and then just a regular bullnose trim tile. Again, while not super difficult, this was a very tedious and exact process.

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5. Grout. Oh glorious grout. So disgusting looking when applied, and such a messy, arm breaking process. But at least non-sanded grout doesn’t demolish your hands as much as sanded grout does. This process was not very difficult. Like everything else, it is just very time consuming and kills your arms. Andy had (of course) gone out of town for the entire week following us finally getting all the tile up, so the grouting fell on me. I went ahead and grouted all of the white subway tile first. I didn’t plan on splitting it up, I simply forgot to seal the mosaic tile, which is natural stone, first. Something that is a necessary requirement, but adds an extra 24 hour delay. So, this was a drawn out process for me.

After grouting the bottom half and cleaning off the excess with a dry sponge, I cam back a couple days later and sealed the mosaic tile, the dried grout on the subway tile, and the grout on the floor (which we had never done). By that time, I decided to wait until Andy got home to finish up the rest. And boy am I glad I did. Grouting the nice even subway tile was not too bad. Grouting the uneven travertine mosaics and braided ceramic tiles was a bitch. Excuse my french. It was very hard to get the grout lines clean and straight while grouting over such uneven tiles. After I did the middle (and biggest) section by myself, I made Andy come up and help me with the rest. At the rate I was going alone, it would have been another 1 am finish. Luckily we finished up around 10 pm or so and after a lot of cussing and moaning and groaning, we had FINALLY completed the tiling. All that was left was sealing the new grout! Hallelujah, I thought this day would never come!

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Stay tuned for the countertop install!! After that, Andy and I will be moving on to (hopefully) new and greener projects in the world of house renovations. 🙂

Bathroom Floor

Ladies and Gents, the bathroom floor is officially done!

And man am I chomping at the bit to get this whole bathroom done so I can finally take a long relaxing soak in my new tub…

I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but it’s been cold down south lately. I mean, cold – like >20 degrees cold. So this has been a pretty intense project. With the walls not completely fixed, and the vent and poop shoot completely open, the cold air has been keeping the bathroom pretty chilly. Not to mention that Andy had to run the wet saw outside in freezing temps. By the end of the night, he was passing me tiles with ice on them. No joke folks. But we persevered and got it done! Just in time to go to the lake and enjoy a bitterly cold weekend sitting by the fireplace.

Of course, nothing in our house is easy. Nothing in our bathroom is level and the walls are definitely not square. So the first thing we had to decide was how to create an optical allusion that would trick you into thinking it is square. The tile before had been done very poorly. Small slivers of tiles filling in cracks and making it blatantly obvious just how NOT square the bathroom is. I wanted no slivers in this bathroom. So in order to determine the best way forward, I went ahead and laid out several tiles to get a feel of the land. This was basically like putting together a giant puzzle… And I love puzzles.

After drooling over the Tile Shop website and concluding that their tile was simply way too expensive, I went to Home Depot and picked out this beautiful travertine (limestone) tile in “Ivory.”

photo 1 (5)We decided to start by the closet, since this is one of the most visible areas, as well as the only line that ended with a tile threshold (took me forever to remember that word). As you can see below, we snapped a chalk line for the first row in order to make sure I was laying the tile correctly.

photo 2 (5)Even though the space is getting progressively smaller, we were able to keep the tile cuts to a minimum by putting a larger gap at the end that will be primarily covered by the trim. We used Versabond fortified white thinset to set the tile. We used the powder form and mixed it with an attachment for my (not Andy’s!) corded Ryobi drill.

photo 4 (3)While Andy was outside in the frigid cold using his wet saw, I laid almost all the of the tile. However, Andy did take a breather from the cold and lay about 4 tiles before I got impatient and kicked him back out 🙂

photo 3 (5)Because of the alignment of the tiles, I was unable to work from both sides in. So I was increasingly pushed back into the corner with the bathtub as I tiled.

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Andy would actually hand me the cut tiles through the window to the deck. Talk about handy! (Definitely don’t look as good as Nicole Curtis while working… Love that show!)photo 2 (7)

In order to ensure that the tiles by the bathtub were not small slivers, we had originally cut about a third off the first tiles we laid down by the threshold tiles. This allowed both sides to end in larger tiles instead of one side ending in slivers. Here I am laying the last tile from inside the bathtub at about 9:30 at night.

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It was a little tricky getting out of the bathroom without stepping on any of the newly laid tiles, but luckily I did not have to climb out the window like Andy suggested. Instead I jumped onto the countertop and swung myself out like a monkey…

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Next, we got to grout on Wednesday night after work. I chose Polyblend Sanded Grout in “Light Smoke” for the floor (we will use the non-sanded version for the walls). I didn’t want to go with a super light grout because the water in Atlanta tends to dye things red. I have no clue why. Not going to lie, even though I knew the grout color would change as it dried, I was a little afraid of the doo doo brown color it initially was.

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And then, of course we ran out of grout right before the finish line… SO CLOSE! And it was about 9:10 PM so Home Depot was already closed. photo 4 (4)We (finally) finished the grouting last night – I told you it was doo doo brown originally. It literally looked like we were smearing poop on the floor. Thankfully, it didn’t smell quite as fragrant.

photo 2 (8)And finally, the finished product! Next up – trim work, toilet, and bathtub tile!

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Stay tuned!

Bathroom Rebuild

After two days of work and a bill of just over $800, my bathroom has officially been rebuilt!

While Andy and I are trying to keep costs down by doing as much work as possible, some things you just can’t do yourself. Like leveling a floor and installing a bath tub. I think the contractor (from Atlanta Painting Plus) was slightly surprised at how involved this project was…

First, let’s begin with the floor. As anyone who has ever owned an old house knows, the floors are simply not level. Everywhere in our house we have slight bumps and slants. Technically we have three old houses. The original house was built in 1940, added onto sometime around the 60’s, and then added onto again in the 90’s. Everything was fine until the shoddy 90’s work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I honestly think they pulled some people off the street and handed them tools.

When we first bought the house in 2013, the structural support wall for the entire back half of the house was leaning about 3 inches back with all the mortar loose between the cinder blocks. The engineer told us that he literally didn’t know how the back half of the house was still standing. So the seller of the house agreed to fix this my installing new support posts to take the weight of the house off the wall entirely. But as the seller told us, this wall had been like this for a LONG time. So it is really no surprise that our floors and walls are not level – not even close.

Our contractor was able to fix the major hump in the bathroom floor by leveling one side of the bathroom by adding a new joist higher than the old one. The other slant, going the other way on the other half the bathroom was not fixable without jacking up the house and repairing all the floors, including the kitchen. This is most likely the damage caused by the structural wall failure. Obviously, we were not going to do this. Definitely not worth the large investment this would cost. Besides, what’s an old house without some character, right?!

Here is the floor with just the new plywood installed after the old (shitty) bathtub had been removed and the joist replaced.

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Of course when am I ever able to take a picture without my fur babies showing up?

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And here is the junk pile from the old floor…

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Day two was spent installing the bathtub. Nothing can ever be standard, am I correct? The space we had for our bathtub was 59″ in length… The standard bathtub is 60″. Luckily, I had already prepared the contractor for this and he had confirmed that they would be able to shave back the studs in order to fit the 60″ tub. Sounds like a blast – better them than me! But they did a great job, and my bathtub is amazing!! It is super deep and long enough for me to actually stretch my legs out – and for those of you who don’t know me, I have REALLY long legs. I’m almost 5’11 with disproportionately long legs to be precise (can you say economy comfort?). So this is a truly amazing feat.

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Next up – tiling! Stay tuned 🙂

Bathroom Demo

Step 1 complete! Andy and I had a super fun filled weekend of demoing. We dropped Woody off at a friends house most of the weekend… AKA we threw him over the fence into the neighbors yard so he could play with their two sons and dog Franklin. Our neighbors are awesome!

The demo went a lot faster and better than I expected. Shocking, I know. We didn’t discover any (too) rotten boards or rats nests. We did discover that the setup for the toilet is not standard (nothing ever is in our house), so instead of the standard 12″ rough in, we have to get a 10″ rough in which is slightly harder to find in comfort height. Meaning, I had to find a toilet with less depth that still has the extra height. Luckily, PDI Kitchen and Bath where I purchased the bathtub and sick had one in stock!

This was my first demo, so it was a little scary starting off! The point of no return you might say. But I think we conquered it pretty well!

We started out with a chisel and hammer on both the floor and shower tile…

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But this quickly got old. We discovered that the wall behind the shower tile was actually just drywall, instead of cement board. While this is a big no-no, the tile had protected the drywall pretty well and it actually made our demo a lot easier. After chipping away at one wall by hand, I concluded that their was a much easier method moving forward…. Yanking down the entire wall.

While I was painstakingly chipping away at tile by hand, Andy had come up with a slightly different plan for the floor. He had discovered an impact hammer in the tool set that he has inherited from his father. Basically, this is a handheld jack hammer. And boy did it tear up our floor a lot faster than we could have ever imagined!

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In the end, we removed a lot of molding, all of the tile floor, all of the walls around the shower, and the toilet. Not too bad for a weekends work! Check out our demolished bathroom and stay tuned for my next update. As I type the contractors are installing new floors and our new bathtub!

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Bathroom Reno – BEFORE

I am SUPER PUMPED right now!! I am finally moving ahead with our biggest project to date. Our master bath! Unfortunately, since I am not a licensed plumber or contractor, I will not be DIYing this project. But believe me when I say that I will be watching and learning from everything they do. I had the contractors come out this weekend and went over the plan with them. I got a loose estimate and hope to receive a formal estimate soon. I am so ready to move forward with this much needed renovation.

As an FYI, this is the first out of two big projects we are taking on this year – which will probably be the last two really big projects we do on this house. I think we will have reached max market growth on the house after both of these have been completed.

As a build up for this big project, I wanted to go ahead and post the before pictures. Note, this bathroom already looks a lot better than it did when we bought it with just a few decorative changes. But it will be completely overhauled over the next month!

BEFORE PICTURES:

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As you can see, the only real redeeming quality of this bathroom is the cabinets. Everything else is in dire need of updating and replacing.

All of the tile is going to be replaced. The floor is going to be replaced with a beautiful ivory travertine tile – natural limestone with a honed finish. The walls are getting a classy and simple upgrade to white subway tiles, darker grout, and a travertine accent border. The wall tile will also go all the way to the roof in order to visually enlarge the space.

The shower curtain will be replaced with frameless sliding glass doors for a modern update that will really open the bathroom space and show off the new tile.

The plastic whirlpool junk tub is going to hauled away and trashed and replaced with a clean, simple white tub which maximizes the space with extra depth and no bulky jets.

The toilet is going to be replaced with a newer taller model that hits above my calves. Hopefully, it will also flush consistently…

While the cabinets will be staying, the laminate counter top has to go. We will be replacing is with a light/medium colored granite slab that will hopefully blend well with the travertine floor and backsplash.

Finally, the sink and all bathroom fixtures will be updated to new and improved satin nickel fixtures.

Luckily, we have a full second bath that we can use while the renos are being completed. Let’s hope they don’t take too long though! Stay tuned for more details!

UPDATE: 1/28

So, we had a couple setbacks. The contractors I had originally planned on hiring came back with a formal estimate of $7,400. The original estimate was between $3000 and $5000. Obviously, this was a big increase and unfortunately, this was above my budget, and frankly, not worth the value it would add to the house. So, Andy and I decided to go another route. Originally I said that this would not be a DIY renovation, but now that has drastically changed. Andy and I will be doing most of the work and hiring a contractor for necessary renos only.

Our neighbors are about to start an expansive renovation and add-on of their house, and she recommended that we contact their contractor to see if he could basically swing by during their project and help with ours. After contacting him and explaining the situation, we agreed that Andy and I would demo, purchase all necessary items, and install all the tile while he would take care of the bathtub installation, all plumbing, and level out the floor for a grand total of $675 bucks. How much better is that?! I finally purchased a Kohler deep soaking alcove tub and a Kohler under-mount sink, bringing my total expenses to just over $1200 (this includes the tile and faucet). Demo starts the first week of February, and everything should be finished by the end of the second week!! I am so excited to get started and share this DIY renovation!

Bathroom

So it’s definitely been a minute since my last post. October and November are always crazy for me – lots of work conferences and lots of South Eastern Conference football! I feel like Andy and I haven’t been at home for more than a day in 3 months. But finally (FINALLY) we are starting to get back into the rhythm and are getting some much needed projects finished! Yay!

One of the biggest projects on our list since we moved in to our house last year has been electrical. Now note, I kind of like my house standing and not burnt down, so even though my sweet heart is a fabulous aerospace engineer, I went ahead and hired an engineer of the electrical variety to help with this large project.

Biggest on my list was the bathroom. Oh my goodness – what a mess. The previous owner had installed these crappy, non-illuminating LED track lights instead of true vanity lights. They did not illuminate the bathroom at all, and produced just enough light to blind me whenever I tried to put on makeup (not that I go out of my way to put on makeup a lot). Disaster.

The lights always hesitated a good 5 seconds to come on, which is actually pretty annoying. Finally, the light fixture just seemed to crap out. Part annoyance part blessing. It finally kicked us into action and I looked up good electricians on Yelp. I ended up calling Cameron Electric, and let me tell you, Steven (our electrician) did a great job! He was super friendly, prompt, and very helpful. Here are some pictures of what we were working with… (note the picture of the light is actually an identical light in another room – we took down the busted one in the bathroom before I could snap a picture)

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We ran into a couple of dilemmas pretty quickly… #1 – the space between the mirror frame and the molding was not big enough to fit a normal vanity light fixture. Darn. #2 – our super awesome 90’s crap job that is the back half of our house, including the bathroom, doesn’t have crawl space. So there is no way to reroute the wiring without opening the ceiling. Double darn.

So, onto plan C. I went to a nearby lighting store called Masterpiece Lighting. They have an excellent selection of ceiling lights which is what I had decided we were going to need. Here is what I ended up picking out…

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Because of the lack of crawl space, are electrician was going to have to reroute from outside – a process which was going to take a couple extra hours that he did not have. So instead of leaving of us (literally) int he dark for the next week, he went ahead and attached the base with light bulbs to the ceiling and plugged it into the outlet. Super beautiful, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers! Let there be light! (Note: the wall is just getting prettier and prettier)

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We had planned on putting at least one recessed light above the shower, however, we quickly realized that this lamp was going to produce all the light we needed. Especially since we plan on putting a glass panel instead of a shower curtain when we finally get the money to redo the rest of the bathroom!

Fast forward a couple weeks later, and I finally managed to repair the wall with some putty and paint and Andy fixed the mirror frame. And wa la! A great looking, relatively easy fix for our bathroom. the new light fixture has added much needed light, and I can finally put my makeup on in my master bath!

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