Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Layers Upon Layers: The Downstairs Bathroom Story

This photo is blurry and therefore doesn't super accurately portray what the bathroom originally looked like, but it certainly captures how one felt when looking at it.
The downstairs bathroom was full of layers. Layers of paint on the door and windows. Layers of ceiling. Layers of tile. Even if you tried to pretty it up and call it simply a multi-faceted space, you just walked in and had to wonder where this bathroom actually began. We could make some educated guesses about its true size, but we knew that until we could peel some of these layers back, we wouldn't really know.

The ceiling was covered by a drop ceiling, most of which was just a few pokes and prods away from crumbling. The door and window panes had at least three coats of paint on them. The large vanity style double sink was hiding layers of lazy plumbing. Finally, there was the stick-on tile.

I understand the decision to use stick-on linoleum tile. I do. I have watched Blake tile a floor, a backsplash, and now a bathtub backsplash, and the whole tiling process requires a level of patience and tenacity that I certainly don't possess. If it were left to only me to tile a floor, I would totally do stick-on tile, no question. Even if it wasn't as pretty or whatever, I would be like, "Yeah, but I have a finished floor, and now I have lots of time to do fun stuff like knit and drink coffee."

Here is what I don't understand: the decision to place stick-on linoleum tile on top of another layer of stick-on linoleum tile. What I especially don't understand is why someone would look at this second layer of tile and then decide to cover this with a THIRD LAYER of linoleum tile. I understand it from a selfish point of view, but shouldn't any decent human being consider the fact that someone is going to be in charge of scraping up not one, not two, but now three layers of stick on tile? Could they not conceive that someday, some poor woman would have to do the brainless, hand-numbing and disheartening work? People, this life is temporal. You might live in your house for sixty years, but some day you will move away or pass away, and think of the legacy you are leaving on your floors. Would you want your great-grandchild scraping up linoleum, weeping on their hands and knees all while whispering, "I just didn't think my Pappy was the kind of man to take the easy road." I'M JUST SAYING.

The good news about the scraping is that underneath the layers of carelessness we discovered beautiful, virtually flawless hexagon tile. There were a few minor damages here and there, but it was mostly perfect. The bad news about this tile is that the only way to get all of the stupid glue off is with a tiny razor blade and hours of my time. Blake got as much of the tile off as he could with a big razor attached to a drill or something that he rigged up to chip away at the linoleum (as if how much he knows how to do isn't enough, I seriously don't understand how he knows the names of all the tools he has and what they all do). 

Notice my impeccable window taping skills to prep for scraping and re-painting. 
I could go on about scraping tile, but it would probably be as excruciating as the actual task, and I think I have sufficiently conveyed my bitterness. The moral of the story is one layer of linoleum tile is plenty, and if you don't like that tile, either suck it up or fix it the right way, because sticking on layer after layer of tile because you don't want to hold yourself to a higher standard is how a twelve year old boy would do things, not an adult paying a mortgage. 

In addition to tile scraping, the entire sink nonsense was removed. The drop ceiling was removed, and we discovered that the bathroom was actually pretty tall.  Also, there was tile almost everywhere. One wrong move, and tile would just fall off of the wall. Each time we thought we were making pretty good progress on the bathroom, something else would fall apart. Eventually, though, enough fell apart that we could actually start putting things back together.

Notice by Blake's face that he is simply obliging my insistence to document our hard work with candid photographs. And this is before the bathtub backsplash fell off the wall!
We used a heat gun and a scraper for faster paint peeling, which worked pretty well. The middle panel of the door had two layers of paint over wallpaper, y'all. Just. Why?
After almost two months, or maybe three (remember, we were only working on days off, so it was just one day a week of work), we were trying to decide what in the world we were thinking by getting a fixer upper. We tried to reassure each other when the other was SO DONE with renovation (thankfully, we rarely were discouraged at the same time). We were sure this bathroom would never get done. 

Then, one day, it was finally done. Sure, we still want to retile the shower some day. Blake had to jack up the floor under the house in one spot where one of the previous owners cut through a support beam that made a section of the house sag (that's a whole different story for another time), which left a little hairline crack in the paint in the bathroom, but when it comes to functionality and how far we have come, the bathroom is done. So, here's that before and after for you:

Also, let me explain the pipe on the ceiling. I can't remember what it's for, but Blake is going to build a box to cover it, we just haven't had time for that particular detail yet. It was previously covered by the drop ceiling.


So, here's the list of things we did to this bathroom:
  • Removed so much tile/watched a lot of tile fall off
  • Replaced bathtub tile with gorgeous subway tile
  • Scraped and repainted window trim
  • Watched the tile backsplash of the bathtub fall off, cracking the bottom of the left window frame in half, repairing then repainting the window frame again
  • Patched and somewhat rebuilt walls
  • Painted walls this gorgeous navy color
  • Replaced shower head
  • Replaced light fixtures
  • Installed vanity and sink
  • Scraped and painted bathroom door
  • Installed medicine cabinet above the sink
  • Scraped and cleaned the tile floor
  • Painted and installed base boards
  • Removed drop ceiling, repaired and painted original ceiling
  • Cleaned and cleaned and bleached and cleaned and bleached the toilet, then replaced the toilet lid
  • Repaired plumbing issues
There are a few little things left to be done to make the bathroom more functional. Blake has plans written out for a large industrial-style shelf he is going to build for storage in the bathroom; however, I still have trouble believing that this room has come as far as it has. 

Also, for a little bonus, I am going to show you a semi-room I renovated almost entirely by myself! 
The hallway, before. 

The hallway, after! I can't wait to hang up pictures on these gorgeous walls! As you can see, it matches the dining room, which you saw in last week's post. Also, can you even believe these beautiful doors?!

To give you an update, there has been plenty of material for a future post this week. Long story short, Blake has been working tirelessly to get the water and gas fixed so that we can move all the way into our fixer upper. The water is working (yay!), and we are hoping to have the gas working within the next day or two. If you think of us, please keep praying for our tenacity! Blake is starting his full time job as Camp Director of Jacob's Ladder this week, he is in nursing school, and he works part time as the worship leader for New Life Bible Church, on top of all the work needed for the house. I do as much as I can to help, but there are some things I am just so not qualified to touch, which makes his to-do list ever growing. So much of this house has come together beautifully, and we are proud of the work we have accomplished, but all things considered, the house is about halfway done. Sometimes the unfinished projects looming over us feel never ending, but going back and remembering what the bathroom used to look like has given me a little more wind in my DIY-sails. :)

Thank you all for all of your support and encouragement, and all of your kind words online and in person regarding this blog. I have loved getting to go back and recount this fixer upper journey, and it has made it even more rewarding to get to share it with you!

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