Beignets, Paint Chips, and Progress!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yesterday Adam came and grouted the shower and floor. Since you can't be on it for 24 hours after, we took the night off last night and went out. We got beignets to go from Cafe Rue Orleans and then went to Mama Carmen's for steamers. Yum!

To give you an idea of how nerdy we are we also went to Home Depot AND Lowe's on our date night! That's our idea of a good time! Then we came home and admired our tile some more (from the doorway, of course). 

This picture makes the tile look more yellow than it really is. It's mostly grey...and sorry for the horribly lit pictures. Not sure what happened there.

To wait the full 24 hours meant we didn't get to do anything till this afternoon, so now we're really feeling pressed for time. We want to get the vanity set up by the end of the weekend or Monday night at the latest so the granite guy can come measure. Our tentative deadline for a painted room and a usable shower and toilet is this Friday when my family will be in town. 

You might think with having the tile done that we would be ready to paint and start installing fixtures, but we still have lots to do. We need to paint the ceiling before the walls, but mudding and sanding needs to be done before that. We also need to seal our grout, as well a bunch of other things. 

As we're getting closer to the finish line, I'm starting to think about all the finishing touches like towels, art, towel rods, etc. For me, the art was the most stressful part. I feel like most small bathrooms have a small window on the far wall, so then they could put art over the toilet instead. Well we have no window, so I knew something had to go on that wall, especially since it will be the first thing you see from the hall. We want to make something ourselves, but I don't draw or paint so I decided I want to do some kind of paint chip piece. 

Source: The 3 R's Blog

I know, I know...everyone's doing itBut I like it, so I'm going to do it, too. A lot of the ones I've seen are a little too modern for my decor, but I really love this sort of ombré and herringbone pattern. And herringbone is classic, right? 

I'm going to use strawberries, corals, salmons, pinks, etc to make mine to bring in the accent color from my mood board. Andrew and I got a bunch of paint chips from Home Depot and Lowe's last night, and I'm excited to get started! But first we need to focus on getting the bathroom prepped for painting. And then paint. Woo. 

Also, look what I got in the mail the other day? Yippee!

I ordered this online from Home Depot. Normally a widespread faucet will cost upwards of $150. We like the look of the widespread sooo much better, but we weren't sure we could swallow the price until we found this one! It's a great brand, but for some reason it was only $125! I also had a $25 gift card, so the final price came to $111. Go me.

If anyone in the NWA area is looking for someone to install tile, Adam was great to work with and very affordable. Shoot us an email if you would like his contact info!


It all happened so fast...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I wish I could say Andrew finished up the plumbing quickly and easily this morning and that we were able to shower and make it to work by 8:30. Alas, I cannot say that...or I'd be lying.

Here's how it happened. Andrew stayed up working until 2 last night, and then got up at 6:55 and went to Lowe's. David, a plumbing expert at Lowe's and quickly becoming an acquaintance of ours, asked him how it was going. His response? "Well I'm here at 7 in the morning so not so great!" Too true. He came back with the parts and started soldering. At 8:20 he still wasn't close to done, so I whipped out the computer and started working from home.

Every once in a while Andrew would request my help in confirming that water wasn't leaking. We'd call each other on our phones, I'd wait near the plumbing, and he'd go outside to turn the water on. Andrew tried soldering the pipe 3 times, but this pipe was the lowest point in the house which meant that all the water left in the pipes ran to it. Finally he called a plumber to ask for any tips. He said at that point it's almost impossible to solder, and recommended Gator Bites, or for those of you that shop at Home Depot, Shark Bites, or Sonic, Cheddar Bites...oh no, that's not right, is it? This is basically a pipe with compression fittings that doesn't require soldering.

So he finished the plumbing and then off he went to turn on the water. Only problem? He accidentally left a valve open, and he forgot to ask me to watch. So I'm working away, when all of a sudden I hear water pouring into the bathroom!! I run to the bathroom to see water spraying everywhere. It looked like a fire sprinkler went off! I ran to tell Andrew, the whole time screaming like a crazy person. And there was definitely some crying, too. Can't blame me though. I had visions of our drywall completely soaked and flopping on the floor like wet bread, and having to redo EVERYTHING! Thankfully, that did NOT happen. Everything was very wet, though...including our light fixture. Turns out it's not quite as frosted as we thought!

We got out the wet vac and some towels and started mopping it up. My heart was still racing. This was probably the most dramatic DIY moment for me yet. I think I may have had a mini panic attack.

It dried out pretty quickly though, so we continued on our merry way and laid down the rest of the hardie backer and then Adam came to tile.

On a sidenote, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but we decided to hire someone else to tile. Our reasons are the following:

  • We have none of the tools for it, which alone would run us upwards of $300.
  • It takes a lot more skill than you might think...and we're not sure we have it.
  • It's very time consuming, especially for a beginner, and we both work all day 5 days a week.
  • We want to stay married.

Anyway, he finished up the subway tile yesterday and it looks awesome! Just keep in mind it's not grouted or caulked yet. At first I was worried it went up too high on the wall, but after looking at it for a while I think it actually makes the room feel taller. Which it needs, as it is neither tall nor spacious. Once we get the other stuff in here and get the shower doors on I think it will be perfect.

We brought it up so high because we wanted to raise our shower head so you didn't have to bend down  to get wet. Apparently people in the 80s were shorter? Hah. We raised the shower head by about 5 inches, and we wanted to make sure the tile came above that. Then we had to make sure we ended with a full tile at the top. 

Today he did the floor and it turned out out great, too! He started in the back because we decided it was more important to have full and half tiles there than by the door, but turns out we ended up with that on both ends! What a perfect surprise after such a stressful and imperfect day.

It's really starting to feel like we're making good progress now. You know those TV shows where they spend 45 minutes showing the demo and all the problems encountered along the way and then all of sudden the room is done and you think, "Did they skip something?" No, that was our experience, too. It seemed like we'd been stagnant for a while. We'd done a lot of work, just nothing really aesthetic so it felt like it was going really slowly. Then it was like all of sudden...BAM! It's a bathroom! It's almost bittersweet. I still feel like I should walk past and see studs and subfloor...Nah, almost bittersweet, almost.  Anyway, Adam is coming back tomorrow to do the grout, and then we'll be ready for the next phase!

We've also discovered that Chaucer is really curious about renovations and DIY. He loves smelling and exploring new things and really doesn't seem all that bothered by the loud noises. I mentioned once before that Chaucer likes to sleep in weird places and that was further confirmed the other night when we found him truly embracing all of these changes...

Looks quite comfy for a cat, doesn't it?
(Just FYI, this is the new, never-been-used toilet.)


2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So remember how I said it has to get worse before it gets better, and that hopefully now we're in the "getting better" phase? Well, on one hand we are. Andrew finished mudding all the joints and corners earlier this week so now it's finally starting to look like a room again! 

But I also could see how some might think it looks worse. And I take the blame for that, cause I just love to make last minute decisions that create more work for us! 

We've been wrestling with the idea of moving the toilet a few inches further away from the side wall because before it was so awkwardly close. I knew this would be a lot of work (and cost more money) so I put off making the decision, but I also knew I'd regret it if we left it where it was. So Andrew cut a hole in the floor in order to move the plumbing. It's a bit ominous looking...

Tiling actually started on Tuesday as planned, and he finished the shower today. More on that later (pictures, too). That means he'll start on the floor tomorrow, which means we have to be done with this plumbing, have the hole covered back up with a new piece of plywood, and have the hardie backer down tonight. It's shaping up to be a long night. 

While Andrew was working on the plumbing for the toilet, I chipped away at the adhesive that got left behind along the entire doorway when we tore up the tile. It looks sort of soft, but it was actually really tough and almost impossible to get out, so we've left it there...until now. It took me over an hour with a screwdriver and hammer to get it out. 

Update: While writing this blog post we discovered one of the newly soldered pipes for the toilet is leaking. It's not a big deal, except we don't have the one piece we need to fix it. Basically this means we can't turn our water on until Andrew can get to Lowe's to buy a piece, but they're already closed (as are all hardware stores right now). Lowe's opens at 7am. Guess where we'll be at 7am?


Deadlines are made to be broken, right?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

After meeting with the tile installation guy last week we decided to shoot for Monday as a start date for him. That meant we had a lot of prep work to do over the next 6 days. We were planning to crank it all out this weekend, but my grandparents were in town so we spent Friday night and most of the day Saturday with them. They are fun people! :) We had a great time, but then it was back to work!

First, we needed to add a little more mortar under the back of the tub. After the mortar dried the first time, we realized there wasn't quite enough in the back and so it made noise when you stood on it. We originally thought we'd have to go through the subfloor to get to it, but I had the brilliant idea to go through the wall in the master bathroom. Go me for using my brain. :)

Andrew then created a ginormous "decorating bag" of sorts to squeeze mortar under the tub. Ingenious, no?

It worked like a charm! No more noisy tub for us.

Then late last night Andrew started mudding the walls (joints between sheetrock and cement board...). The walls in our bathroom are textured, so we needed them to be a little flatter before mudding them so the mudded areas wouldn't be raised after a layer of mortar and new texture. The texture obviously wasn't done correctly (like SO many other things in this house) cause there are a lot of uneven areas, paint drips, bad taping/mudding jobs, and weird sharp specks all over the walls. It was awful, so I decided to sand ALL the walls lightly, and sand the areas near joints more heavily. 

I did all this with a power sander, of course. Sand paper is lame and feels awful. I have a serious aversion to touching anything dusty, powdery, too dry (like paper), scratchy, chalky, etc. Makes reno work quite difficult cause EVERYTHING is dusty. Maddie, you would hate it!

After all that sanding, my hands still feel like they're vibrating as I write this. But my walls feel much smoother which makes me sooo happy! As I sanded and smoothed out bumps on the wall, it revealed spots of the previous yellow paint color. Now the bathroom walls are speckly. It has to get worse before it gets better, I suppose. Hopefully now we're in the "getting better" phase? One can hope.

We still have a lot of stuff to do before the tiling can begin. We need to mud the walls and all the edges and sand them, texture the parts of the wall that were replaced/mudded (and therefore not textured), and paint the ceiling. May not sound like a lot, but when you account for dry times of each step it adds up!! All that to say Monday probably isn't gonna happen. about Tuesday? 

We also found out that my family is coming up to visit the weekend of March 16 and they'll be staying with us. While they said they wouldn't mind having to share one bathroom between 6 people, I want everyone to be alive at the end of the weekend. This means we now have a deadline of March 16 for a usable shower and toilet, at least. We probably won't be able to have everything done by then cause we might have to wait on the granite countertop, but I think we could all stand sharing sinks and not having any artwork in the guest bath. Only 12 more days and so much left to do!! 


Hardie Backer Installation

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We keep plugging away at our bathroom! We've finished all of the plumbing for the bath and are working on the walls now! I had to go under the house in order to finish the drain for the tub, and there isn't much room under there.

Chaucer wasn't quite sure what he thought of the weird noises coming from under his feet, but he felt reassured when he was able to see my face through the tub drain.

After finishing the plumbing it was on to installing a moisture barrier to go behind our wall where the tile will go. We used heavy duty flooring moisture barrier with a sticky seal at the bottom. It made it easy to connect the sheets together and we added some staples to hold it on the wall.

Most recently we have been installing Hardie Backer. Apparently named after James Hardie the inventor? It is basically waterproof concrete board that doesn't mold that goes under the tile. It is also very heavy and hard to cut. Each 3x5 sheet weighs over 30lbs and is a very awkward shape.

In order to cut this stuff you need to be Super Man. A lot of people use circular saws or grinders with carbide blades, but the problem is you have to throw the blades away afterwards. I went for the labor intensive "score BOTH sides using a utility knife, put the score on a 2x6 and kick it till it breaks." This works pretty well, but I had to use a hammer for the cuts that were 1".

To create the holes for the shower faucet, handle and spout I used a masonry bit and a jigsaw. This is the aftermath of using the metal jigsaw blade to cut out an 8" in diameter circle. Pretty tough stuff.

 We are now finishing up the sheet rock and preparing to mud and paint the ceiling. We need the whole bathroom ready for tile by early next week. A contact from our church is going to install the tile, so we are excited to move towards finishing touches.

The sad news we discovered is that we did not get enough mortar under the back of the tub, and it is making a slight cracking noise when stepped on. We put the mortar under the tub to avoid this in the first place! That means this weekend I am planning a trip back under the house to cut a hole and add more mortar under the tub. Ill try to avoid the black widows and send you another update soon!


Guest Bathroom Sneak Peak!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

For anyone preparing to undertake a remodel that ever struggles with indecisiveness or a lack of direction (me!), prepare to be overwhelmed by what seems like a million decisions all at once. I, for one, was overwhelmed and asked everyone for an opinion on vanities, tile colors, finishes, and so on. I also looked at tons of pictures on Pinterest and Houzz

The most helpful thing, though, was having an extremely limited budget. Can you imagine how many more options there would be with a $15,000 budget? Yuck. Anyway, without further ado, here is our Guest Bathroom Mood Board (not all items are exactly what we're using, but you get the idea).

1. Paint and accent colors. Green for the walls - Herbal Mist by Behr. I'm not set on that exact color, so I'll probably buy a sample first. The others are ideas for accent colors. Undecided.

2. Shower tile. Primarily 3"x 6" white subway tile with a row of accent tiles at eye level. We'll cut the sheets of glass tiles into 3 groups of 4 rows. Decided.

3. Obvious, isn't it? We couldn't salvage the old toilet cause it was off-white and not in great shape. Also, it wasn't the new elongated style. Added bonus, our toilet has "4 and half times more flushing power than the average adult needs!" Hey, it's what the box says! Purchased.

4. Countertop. Granite. Originally we wanted grey quartz for a number of reasons, but  for a number of better reasons (namely cost) we're going with a dark granite. :) Decided.

5. Floor tile. We want the colors of the permanent things in the room to  go with warm or cool colors, so we went with a cool grey tile with a hint of off-white marbling. Purchased.

6. Vanity. We wanted a solid wood vanity that didn't look like a basic builder vanity, but without the added cost of a designer one. This was very hard to find! Purchased.

7. New cabinet pulls for vanity. The vanity we found has white wooden pulls so we want to replace them with metal ones for a more updated, contemporary feel. Undecided.

8. Sink faucet. It needs to be a decent brand (they really do last longer!), brushed nickel, and widespread (not centerset)...which are quite expensive. :( Undecided. 

9. Light fixture. We wanted a light fixture with 4 lights to brighten up the space. There's no natural light in this room or opportunity for it. Purchased.

So there you have it. Hopefully that gives a good idea of where we're headed with this project. We're really excited with how all of the design elements are coming together, and can't wait to see the finished product!! Still have to decide on artwork, towels and other accessories. many decisions. 


Guest Bathroom Budget

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So let's talk budget. Andrew and I are two very budget-conscious people, so before we started any work on our bathroom I put together a complete budget for the project. I included everything I could think of from the big purchases like a vanity, toilet & tub to the smallest details like $10 for cement board screws. I call this "attention to detail." You may prefer "anal retentive."

Can you tell which home improvement store we prefer?

Our total budget is $5,000 max, though we'd love for it to be less! This includes all purchases, bills for installation of anything we decide we don't want to do ourselves, repairs of anything we find that needs to be repaired, etc. This is quite scary for two reasons:

1. The average bathroom remodel in the U.S. costs around $15,000 (depending on source ranges from $9,000 to $25,000). Can we do it for so much less? I certainly hope so.
2. To us, even $5,000 feels like a lot of money to spend on a bathroom.

A good amount of this additional cost comes from labor. Since we're trying to do most of it ourselves, except possibly tiling, we're hoping to cut down on these costs a lot.

I did my research before creating this budget, but I know there are always things you don't even know need to be purchased or fixed, and I'm sure I've forgotten something. (I already know I severely underestimated in the plumbing department!!) We're tracking everything closely, and once we're done we'll reveal whether or not we stayed on budget or if the budget went down the drain!