Upstairs Bathroom – Current

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.

1) The window has been replaced with a custom-order awning-style window with privacy glass. It is a thing of beauty. Having an open window in the shower is super refreshing, and being able to spot a blue sky while I’m scrubbing down has this weird effect of making me ready to tackle the day. Tim found the marble for the sill at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, and we ended up using it in the shower niche as well. Tim has determined that the sill is an ideal place to put your shower beer if you need to unwind after hauling 6 sheets of drywall home from the hardware store.

2) After dismissing most of the tile selection at the Big Three home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards), we ended up at Hamilton Parker, a specialty tile store. The selection is phenomenal there, and we took forever deciding, but this retro-styled wall tile and glass and marble mosaic accent stripe make us deeply happy. We did hit a bit of a snag when we realized that we’d been given a different colorway of the mosaic than we had ordered, which we didn’t notice until after we’d installed a fair amount of it. We had to rethink our floor tile, which no longer quite matched, but it turned out to be a happy accident because we love the floor tile we ended up with.

3) This Delta valve is awesome. It has separate temperature and volume controls, so you can leave the setting for temperature where you’d like it and turn the water on and off, giving you the same warmth of water every day. (Or, say, you realize you did not rinse the conditioner from your hair right after you turn the water off. Bam! Same water temperature!) Once we discovered the Addison style fixtures, we were pretty smitten, so now all of our hardware matches. Yup, we bought “designer” towel bars.

4) That niche is a thing of beauty. The shelves are made of the same marble as the window sill, and we used a thin slice to accent the top of the niche. We got the pre-formed niche from Hamilton Parker and you can attach it right to the studs in the wall and tile over it.

5) We kept the idea of the built-in cabinet and moved the opening to the other wall to keep it dry. We’ll show more of this when we finish constructing it, right now it’s still a big hole (open to the stairway beneath it) with finished plywood sheathing, waiting for the shelves and the rest of the trim.

6) This is the thermostat for our heated floor. Yeah, we installed a heated floor. Tim did the math and since we had pulled everything up (including the subfloor) anyway, it seemed like a good move. It’s nicer than having a space heater sitting on the floor all winter, and we got the programmable thermostat so we’d be able to wake up to nice warm floors when it was time to shower in the morning. We saved money in some places, and treated ourselves to a little luxury in others.

7) Shiiiiiny lightswitch. That is all. (Tim changed out the white switchplate to this pretty shiny one after a solo trip to the hardware store and it was a neat little surprise when I got home.) There is a matching outlet cover by the sink. Swanky.

8) The toilet is one of the first fixtures that we purchased and it miraculously goes really well with the design of everything else. It is low-flow and can flush and fill like lightning compared to our downstairs toilet. (That’s the one that will occasionally make you go “hmm, has that actually been running for the past 3 minutes?” before dashing off to fiddle with the handle and the tank to make it stop.) Installing the toilet was very exciting, because we no longer had to stumble downstairs in the middle of the night.

9) Tim “tested” the tubs out in the store by climbing into the displays to find ones that would be long enough for us to stretch our legs out. That man is dedicated. The tub is cast iron, so it’ll retain heat, and the narrower cavity takes less water to fill. I particularly love the wide ledge on the wall-side, which we joke is ideal for a glass of wine while taking a bubble bath. (Shower beer and bath wine? We are all about class up in here.) Tim took an ice bath after a long run, before we had tile on the walls or a spout for the water.

10) This tile is so pretty in person. I got fixated on the idea of using longer, narrower tiles to make the bathroom seem a little bigger, and our original choice for floor tile would have required us ripping each piece in half, long-ways. This understandably made us nervous to potentially ruin the tile, despite having a super-nifty professional tile saw (a totally worthwhile investment). When we had to rethink our plans for the floor because of the mosaic mix-up, we discovered this tile, which already came in a 7″ x 21″ dimension, which was just perfect. Sold!

11) This giant mirrored medicine cabinet gives us tons of storage, and the insides are fully mirrored as well. As of right now it is still empty, because we’re waiting on moving toothbrushes, etc upstairs until the counter and backsplash are finished on the vanity. I look forward to being able to check out all angles of my head on the 3 days a year I end up doing my hair all fancy-like.

12) The brick (which still needs a little clean-up) is miles better. Tim handed me a bottle of muriatic acid and some protective gear and let me have at it. Let’s be real, here, the whole process made me nervous, but I scrubbed at the brick to remove the loose bits and clean up stray paint (this was before we’d installed the nice floor tile or any of the wall, so as not to splash acid on finish surfaces) and it looks much better than it did before. I ended up sealing the brick, too, since there was potential to splash it a little from the vanity side, and on the occasion when we accidentally splashed water all over it (yup, there was a minor plumbing accident), the water beaded up fairly well.

13) This sink is maaaaarvelous. We knew we’d need something not terribly deep because the toilet (which we had the plumbers move from one side of the floor joist to the other to give a little room) was still pretty close. We were considering Euro style vanities, but the tops often look like pregnant bellies to me. We ended up getting a vanity custom-made, which I’ll let Tim talk all about in a future post, because that was all him. When Tim spotted this sink online, we knew it was perfect. Modern, with a nifty little cantilever, partially recessed, a bowl with enough slope to not have water (and dirt) just sitting on the surface. When we have the counter and tile in place, we’ll spend more time showing off the vanity and sink, but we are thrilled to have a working sink.

14) Tim might chime in on this, but from my perspective, this tile was a real struggle to wrap my head around. Tim carefully laid out all of the benefits of tiling behind the toilet: Easier to clean where the floor and wall meet, allows the tile to be shown off even when the shower curtain is closed, avoids the awkward joining of wooden baseboard and tile. All I could see was “backsplash for toilet” and I couldn’t shake the image. I’m glad I gave in, though (after spending hours on Houzz, looking at pictures of other people’s tile), because it really does look nice and I’m betting I’ll feel the same when I’m cleaning. But yeah, that is definitely something I had to be talked into.

That’s it for now. We’ve got a lot of process pictures that illustrate things like how weirdly cozy the bathroom looked with just studs and insulation, and how excited we were to put a subfloor back down after Tim shaved floor joists to make the whole thing even (I am very proud that I did not accidentally put a foot through the living room ceiling in those months), and we’ll backtrack a little with future posts. But now you’re caught up on where we’re at. This weekend’s goal is getting the counter and tile for the vanity going. Yay, more grout!


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