Upstairs Bathroom – Before

We decided after moving into our house that the first project should be the upstairs bathroom. The logic was basically that we wanted to take the shower out of the downstairs bathroom and put in a washer and dryer. However, we didn’t want to remove that little cubicle of a shower until the upstairs bathroom was finished, so we’d always have a place to get clean. We had no intention of rushing through any of the do-it-yourself renovation, because it would just stress us out, so losing a shower wouldn’t be a temporary situation as it would have if we’d hired a contractor to power through. Therefore the upstairs bathroom had to be complete (or at least a complete, useable bathroom, if not all of the trim finished and everything), before we proceeded with any plans on the downstairs bathroom. If you think I’m kidding about our time frame, I started demo in the bathroom in October and we just installed the vanity last week. Let’s walk through some of the issues present when we first moved in.

1) Yeah, that’s a drop ceiling. What you can’t tell from the picture (and since this is the only room we’ve done anything major to, this Before post is going to involve a lot of information we didn’t know until we started pulling everything down) is that it is one of 3 ceilings. Behind the drop panel, there were glued-on ceiling tiles, covering up the original plaster ceiling. We ended up taking this room down to the studs, which meant yanking all the ceilings down. What we hadn’t anticipated at all was that at some point, there had been a fire in the walls which left a LOT of sooty ash up in the attic, which rained down while I was pulling plaster off of the lath.

2) The only lighting in the bathroom was from the weird pendant lights hanging from wires.

3) We LOVE the exposed brick in our home (and have plans to expose more of it in one other spot), but this is not in great shape. Care had not been taken by previous owners to keep paint from splattering on the brick, and it was flaking, crumbling, and dusty (which you can see if you look at the ledge above the wainscoting). Tim had a plan for this, and it involved acid.

4) The door had been painted, but it wasn’t in great shape anyway. (You can see there is a big crack in the top right panel.) We’re trying to save original woodwork where we can, but this door was not a candidate.

5) I actually LOVED the giant mirror in the bathroom, because it bounced the natural light around, but Tim pointed out that with it taking up an entire wall, our options for hanging bath towels were limited. Oh, right. We ended up compromising with a giant mirrored medicine cabinet.

6) Pedestal sinks are a good fit for some bathrooms, but this room was pretty little to sacrifice the storage a vanity would provide. We were going to need to find a vanity/sink solution that didn’t make the bathroom feel super-crowded, though, because as you can see from the first picture, that sink and toilet are mighty close together.

7) It’s not so much that we objected to the wainscoting (or at least I didn’t, I don’t remember how Tim felt about it) per se, but this was not well-installed and we weren’t willing to be saddled with it. Wainscoting could come into play in a future room (or better yet, board and batten!), but even though when demo started we hadn’t developed a clear vision for the bathroom yet, we were fairly certain it didn’t include what was on the walls at the time.

8) This window absolutely needed to be addressed. We temporarily installed blinds across the window, because the glass was totally clear, but once we swapped out the tub and there was no liner on the far side of the tub/shower area, water would be splashing all over the blinds and the woodwork, so it had to go. While we were taking it out and framing for the new window installation, we discovered the exisiting window had been terribly installed. When Tim pushed on one corner of the window, the entire thing sagged out from the house, barely attached to the framing. This does not instill us with a lot of confidence that the rest of our windows are installed properly, but we’ll cross those drafty, improperly secured bridges when we come to them.

9) This storage area was a nice bonus, but again, changing the tub meant that that wall was now going to be sprayed with water, so woodwork was not an option. Even in the existing bathroom configuration, the door couldn’t open far before hitting the curtain rod. We liked the idea of in-bathroom storage, so we’ve kept the general idea, but changed how you access it, which you’ll see later.

10) Ah, the clawfoot tub. I get that they’re charming and darling and we’re crazy to have gotten rid of it. The reality is, if you’re using one for both a tub and a shower area, they’re kind of gross and not particularly practical. The apartment we moved into after we got married had a clawfoot tub and neither of us relished continuing to shower while surrounded by plastic liners. Also, both Tim and I are tall people, and we cannot sit down comfortably in a clawfoot tub. Between me and my giant stockpile of Lush bath products and Tim wanting to take ice baths to recover from long runs, a full-length tub looked awfully appealing. With the gracious help of some friends, Tim pulled this beast out.

Not pictured: It’s tough to tell from this selection of before shots, but the floor was not in great shape either. Several tiles were loose and occasionally stuck to your bare feet and came up. Others were not spaced very evenly. We were determined to do a way better job. Also, at this point, the outlets were not grounded. We are extremely lucky to have a friend who worked as an electrician who helped Tim with all the necessary rewiring (oh, and the house had Very Old Wiring in some parts still when we bought it, which he also helped us remove), and now we have both outlets and the floor heating on their own circuit.

So that’s where we started. I can’t wait to show you where we are now!


3 comments on “Upstairs Bathroom – Before

  1. […] It’ll take way too long to detail everything we did to the bathroom if I try to include it all now, so I want to show you where we’re at now, and we might go back and fill in on how specific projects went, or just share the many, many photos we’ve taken along the way. (We were determined from the start to document this process pretty well, since we knew the transformation of most of the rooms would be pretty dramatic.) To compare how far we’ve come, make sure to check out what the bathroom looked like before. […]

  2. […] may recall from the Before Pictures of the bathroom that the original door was not the best. Not only was it painted, but one of the […]

  3. […] about the house as-is was the exposed brickwork. This is the same chimney that runs through the upstairs bathroom, as well as in our office upstairs (we’ll get to that on the tour eventually!). It could use […]

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