The long-awaited bathroom reveal

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Friends, Romans, countrymen: the time has come. At long last, after months of teasing about the ongoing bathroom remodel, it is now time to reveal our masterpiece. Try to contain yourselves. Some disclaimers are in order.

I am a fool and did not take nearly as many “before” pictures as I should have. Also, Mr. Fickbonne & Associates did a lot of the demolition and construction work without me there to document their progress (and naturally they didn’t think to take pictures because men). So this reveal might not be as impressive as it otherwise would be.

We worked on the bathroom gradually over several months, because if there’s anything I’ve learned from attempting to reside in a house during major renovations, it’s that it is miserable. And since we only have one bathroom (FOR NOW) I was not about to sacrifice my hygiene and comfort for longer than a day or so at a time. I highly recommend this gradual method of bathroom construction. It keeps the misery and in-fighting to a minimum.

Also, we ignored the bathtub and tiles completely. That was more of a project than we felt like tackling at this point, especially with the aforementioned single bathroom in the house. The ubiquitous shower window is still there, along with the moderately ugly tiles. Don’t get excited.

Disclaimers over! ARE YOU READY TO SEE THE NEW AND IMPROVED CASA FICKBONNE BATHROOM AND TOILETTE? Of course you are.

Before:

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After:

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It’s so pretty! It’s so functional! It was so… moderately inexpensive but also more expensive than I anticipated. Here’s everything we did:

  • Installed an electrical outlet. Remember our pal Jamie the wonder electrician, who was happy to help us with a few projects just to get some “practice” doing residential rather than commercial work? You have him to thank for making my hair look presentable in the morning. For when we moved in there was not an outlet in sight in the bathroom, and therefore nowhere to plug in my blow dryer or straightener. Jamie put in an outlet right by the sink soon after we moved in.
  • Installed a vent fan and overhead light. This was arguably the most important change. There was no ventilation and very little light before, so everything would turn into a wet, foggy mess after even the shortest shower. We were at risk of contracting mold and grossness on our walls and tiles. And nothing in the bathroom was ever dry. Not one to mess around, I bought a vent fan/light combo that was strong enough to ventilate a room twice the size of our little bathroom. Then it was just a matter of going into the attic (Hah! I make it sound so easy…), using a jigsaw to cut the appropriate ceiling hole, and inserting the fan/light. Our walls and ceiling are hundred-year-old plaster and lathe, so naturally, this meant more than a few cracks in the plaster occurred. We ran a ventilation duct from the fan through the attic to the outside wall where–serendipitously!–there was already a ventilation hole for just such a purpose. Then we hired an electrician (not Jamie, who has done more than enough free work in our house) to wire it up and replace our single light switch with three switches to control the overhead light, fan, and lights above the sink.

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  • Replaced the over-the-sink light fixture. Electrical work can be intimidating if you’re creating a new outlet or wiring in an appliance where none existed before. But replacing an already existing light fixture is literally child’s play (note: children should probably not play with electricity unattended). When we moved in, the fixture was dingy and rusty and probably older than our parents. We replaced it with a simple vanity-style fixture that provides a lot more light while also not being an eyesore.
  • Replaced the pedestal sink with a proper bathroom vanity. When we moved in there was a crappy pedestal sink with a very sad, 4″x4″ DIY wooden shelf tacked to the wall next to it. It was useless and ridiculous and I’m kicking myself for not taking more pictures of the whole monstrosity. The sink also had a bad habit of leaking. So we got on Craigslist and replaced the whole shebang for a mere $40 with a used vanity with enough counter space and storage underneath to actually be functional. Instant life improvement, and the vanity matches our news walls as an added bonus!

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  • Demolished the unnecessary tiles and fixtures. Mr. Fickbonne is never happier than when there’s a sledgehammer in his hand. He likes to Hulk out and yell “BEN SMASH!” He’s a simple man with simple needs, so I let him rip out the two floor tiles that were inexplicably tacked up behind the sink as a pathetic “backsplash,” as well as the amateurish “baseboard” made from floor tiles, and the two ceramic end grips for a towel bar (no towel bar in sight) that were inexplicably cemented into the wall.

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  • Repaired all the plaster. Demolishing the tiles and the broken towel bar took lots of big chunks out of the plaster. And installing the vent fan in the attic left cracks in both the ceiling and one wall. Mr. Fickbonne sealed and repaired it all with spackling paste, then used spray-on wall texture to blend the repairs into the texture of the rest of the walls. In the end, you couldn’t even tell there had been cracks in the fist place.
  • Installed a curved shower curtain rod. Honestly, if I had to do it again I wouldn’t it didn’t add that much more room to the shower (believe me, my giant of a husband would’ve noticed), and drilling through the tile took forever (yes, even with a tile drill bit). But it’s much nicer than the retractible curtain rod we had up there before, and the brushed nickel look matches the rest of our fixtures.
  • Installed beadboard wainscoting and trim. I don’t know what we did to befriend such a wonderful human being, but we owe our buddy Craig big time for playing lead carpenter on the finishing touches of our bathroom. His patient expertise was absolutely necessary to the prettification of our bathroom, and we absolutely could not have done it without him. He deserves a medal for not chasing me out nor yelling at me for being a clumsy moron when it comes to carpentry. In the end, he made our bathroom 900000% classier while mom and I painted trim in the living room. Because he’s a classy guy, see?

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  • Painted the bejeezus out of the joint. Mr. Fickbonne is officially not allowed to paint. His strengths (literally) lie elsewhere. But put a paintbrush in his hand and he turns into a silverback gorilla on acid. Such was the case when he attempted to paint the bathroom while I was out of town. He called it quits about halfway through the job and I came back and completely re-did it after choosing newer/better colors. But now the whole bathroom has been repainted to glorious effect in Behr colors Frost and Smokey Blue in matte.
  • The little touches. You’ve already heard about the Bathroom Brachiosaurus. We also installed a full-length mirror on the back of the door, made a little mason jar toothbrush holder, bought a new shower curtain to match the dinosaur, hung a vintage National Park advertisement poster, and brought in an aloe plant that seems to enjoy the damp air.

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So there you have it! The great Fickbonne bathroom remodel of 2015!

There are still a few little things to get done, but I couldn’t wait any longer. The biggest project now is replacing the mirror over the sink, which will require some research. It serves as the door of the medicine cabinet, which is custom-built into the wall and it’s not entirely clear that a new door can be so easily installed. We also want to install an energy efficient shower head and toilet, but those will wait for another day.

In the meantime, let’s start thinking about building the new bathroom in the basement!

 

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