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Home / Red Lips-Home Decor & Lifestyle / It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better-Bathroom Renovation

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better-Bathroom Renovation

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better-Bathroom Renovation

We had just nicely finished a major renovation in the basement when a new one came along. We had finished a big section of our concrete basement, added a kitchenette, a pantry and brand new bathroom (without any existing plumbing, so when I say a major renovation, it really was a big one!) When the plumbing in my main bathroom (and formerly our ONLY bathroom!) went wacky, I was unprepared but realized another reno was potentially looming. The water was taking forever to drain down the sink and the tub, sometimes getting completely stuck for days at a time. Our fears were realized when we called in the plumber and they told us that we needed all new plumbing in that bathroom and that the slow draining sink and tub were only going to get worse over time. Another bathroom renovation? I wasn't prepared. And even harder to deal with was the fact that I wasn't able to even secure the plumber for that big of a job for at least four months. The bright side was that I at least had four months to set aside a little bit of money and to start looking for new fixtures and flooring.

I live in a very old house. It is at least 110 years old. And it really looks great for an old girl...but it's an old house nonetheless. Opening up floors and walls is always a gamble as the job could be what the tradesmen thought it would be...or it could become a much bigger job.

I also had some retro wall tile that I was absolutely in love with and I wanted to keep it and design the new bathroom around it. Digging into the walls for new plumbing was scary because I wasn't sure how much of this tile was going to be affected and how much repair would need to be done after we ripped out the tub surround. I discovered a box of the tile, in my basement after moving in, leftover from when it was originally installed. It was wrapped in newspaper and the date on the newspaper was December 6, 1978! This was a great find because it gave us some tile to work with for this renovation.

A little preview of the retro wall tile I really wanted to keep!

The newspaper used to wrap the super old wall tiles from 1978, older than me!  

Anything was fair game in the bathroom reno, except of course these wall tiles that absolutely had to stay. I also wanted to keep the original foot print of the bathroom because where everything was already made sense. The toilet, vanity and tub didn't really have any different places to go. Other than that, I knew I would need to replace the vanity, tub/shower, toilet and flooring.

After picking a tub and finding out it was something crazy like a 37 week wait for it, I picked a different tub, luckily one I liked just as much and it was in stock. The toilet was an easy choice too, I just picked the exact same toilet as I had just put in my downstairs bathroom. I went vanity shopping and found one that I liked pretty quickly from Stonewood Bath Cabinetry. I really liked that this company gave me the option to choose my style and colour of vanity as well as pick out my quartz countertop, sink and hardware. It was custom without having to design it from scratch. I went with a beautiful blue colour because there were flecks of blue in the green wall tile and I thought it would really pull those blues out. The vanity was ordered and set to be manufactured and arriving on time for when the reno was set to start!

I decided I wanted to splurge and get a tile floor, so that gave me the small challenge of finding a tile pattern that actually went with that funky green wall tile. I could have gone the safe route and just picked out a very neutral floor, but where is the fun in that? I jumped into the rabbit hole (otherwise known as Wayfair!) and looked at tiles until my eyes hurt. I was specifically looking for a tile that had both green and blue in it to tie the wall tile and the vanity together. I made photo mock ups of several that I liked and to confuse matters even more, I asked for opinions from friends on Facebook. There was one tile that I really loved and in the end, I decided to order it, even though it was a little busy, it was beautiful. I knew I loved the tile, but I wasn't sure if I was going to love the two patterns of tile, floor and wall, together. Luckily I ended up loving how it turned out, but there were a few moments of worry and second guessing myself and panicked phone calls to my Mom to voice my concerns.

A gutsy tile choice...but look at the perfect colour match between the greens and blues!

The plumbers had to cut up a huge section of my floor and my walls to do the work that needed to be done. I already knew the floors were going to get ripped up and they were being replaced anyway, so that part didn't bother me. The tile wall however was a surprise and it worried me because I only had that small box of tile for repairs and I knew I would need a lot of it to tile the inner part of the half wall. The sweet guys used a delicate touch when removing the tiles and kept most of the tile in good condition so it could be reused for the repair. Crisis averted! A wall in my hallway also fell victim to the plumbing repairs and would need to get fixed and repainted. Luckily they didn't have to go through any additional walls or into the basement which would have been another big fix up job.

This whole renovation has been a bit of a "dance of the tradesmen"...Once the plumbers were finished their initial big job of replacing the plumbing, the contractor could come and start putting the bathroom back together by repairing the tile walls, putting down a sub floor and laying the floor tiles, construct a half wall around the tub and building a faucet deck to allow my vintage tub faucet to work with the new tub. When he got to a certain point, it was the plumbers turn and they had to come to put the toilet in and set the tub faucet into the newly constructed faucet deck. Then the contractor came again for more tile repairs and with the faucet in place, he could finish tiling the faucet deck. The frustrating thing for me was that until some of the jobs got done by one of the trades, the other couldn't come. And they are all so busy right now, that days would go with no one working on the bathroom at all. A renovation doesn't happen without a little (or a lot!) of frustration though and after the few I have been through, I knew that delays will happen. I also knew that a few tears would be shed.

Here are a few photos taken during the renovation.

The demo has begun!

I remember this same exact flooring in my Grandma's cottage!

The new subfloor freshens things up, but I can't wait to see the tile!

Do not walk on! We were given strict instructions!

The halfwall tile looks amazing. You can not even tell what was original and what was new!

This faucet deck was custom built out of necessity. Without it, the water
would have gone all over the place because the tap aimed straight down!

This vanity was a splurge...but it is gorgeous.

The bathroom is still not done. We are waiting on a few things to get finished and once they are done, I will share the beautiful end result. The first few days of the reno absotlutely embodied the concept of the room getting a lot worse before it got better! There are a few items on the to-do list until this is a totally finished renovation. The faucets for the tub and sink need to be set. The showerhead needs to be installed. The handles on the vanity need to be screwed in. A little bit more mudding and sanding needs to be done on the drywall. The walls and ceiling need to be freshened up with some paint and finally, a custom piece of glass will be installed above the half wall to enclose the shower.

It got a whole lot worse before it got better. It is now better, but obviously still not as good as it can be. I am anxiously waiting, along with you, to see, share and enjoy the end result. Just be prepared to wait until mid April, because that's when my painter is booked! I am still loving my house every day but one thing is for sure...renovations teach me patience.




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Thursday, May 5, 2022
I’d love to see the after pics Brooke. Is the painting done?
-- Tanya Reay

Written on Monday, March 21, 2022
Classed under Red Lips-Home Decor & Lifestyle

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