Once my studio was done, and with the drainage under control, I had thought painting the hall would be my next big project, however, this week my to-do list underwent a seismic shift. It all happened because I keep a weather eye on Craigslist.
For those of you who don’t know, Craigslist is an online classified advertisement site. You can list things for sale, and also find all sorts of brilliant stuff to buy. Mostly incredibly cheaply, including great remodelling bargains: it’s like a giant online salvage yard.
I don’t look at what’s available every day. Or even every week. I have Craigslist fits, where I become completely obsessed for a few days, and then I get bored …
In the throes of my most recent Craigslist fit, though, I managed to find something very exciting.
You see, along with ancient fixtures and fittings, both of our bathrooms are blessed with truly hideous vanity tops. The one in the upstairs bathroom is particularly bad. Here it is:
How do you survive looking at something like that every day? Particularly first thing in the morning when you are at your most vulnerable. You stagger out of bed, creak your way to the bathroom, and the first thing you see is …eeewww!
Well, you do it by pretending it doesn’t exist, by wilfully ignoring said item, firmly telling yourself that it’s ok, one day it will no longer be there. There are a lot of these One Days going on in our house. Denial is a wonderful thing.
I can’t help wondering, though, what would make you voluntarily choose a vomit-colored top for your vanity? I guess we are all different, and that’s what makes the world the marvellously interesting place it really is.
In fairness to the taste of the previous owners of the house, I have been told that so-called cultured marble yellows with age. Perhaps that is part of the ‘culturing’ process, a bit like yogurt?
So, with the magic that is digital image manipulation, let’s imagine it BEFORE it yellowed:
Ummm … nope, still not doing it for me.
Perhaps the decision to buy this was based on budget? Back in the day before the thrill of Craigslist, these were the choices foisted upon you.
Luckily for us we do have it, and during my most recent obsessive Craiglist fit, I happened upon an advertisement for a white vanity top that was the exact perfect size for our upstairs vanity, brand new, unused, still in its box. As a bonus, it was listed as being in our area. And the cost? A princely $20. Mine!!!
I phoned the number on the ad, and it turned out the guy selling it lived just around the corner from us. Literally. So I jumped in the car, drove 200 yards to his place, and returned with said vanity top in the back. The time elapsed from seeing the ad, to arriving back home again was about 15 minutes. What a buzz!
In 15 minutes we went from having to endure vomit-colored vanity denial with no end in sight, to being the proud possessors of a nice new white vanity top. For $20. And here it is:
Admittedly it is also cultured marble. But, this isn’t our ‘forever’ vanity top, it is a cheap quick fix until we totally redo the upstairs bathroom, sometime in the next couple of years. And. It. Was. $20. You can forgive a lot for $20.
Now, I could just have removed the existing tap/faucet from the old vanity and transferred them over to the new top, but it also was old and not exactly pretty:
So, egged on by my awesome vanity top success, I started looking for a new one. And succeeded again! I found this fantastic streamlined hansgrohe faucet for $50:
They normally retail for around $230. Score!
So, we get to revolutionise our upstairs bathroom experience for a grand total of $70. Happy happy happy.
Except the cabinet is pretty worn, tired and sad looking. It is also solid wood, and well made (which blows the ‘they bought this because it was what they could afford’ theory). The cabinet is seriously high end. Or would have been back in the day.
Nothing that a bit of sanding, an upcycle hack, a bit of paint and some new handles and pulls won’t fix. Stay tuned on that one.
And then I got to thinking about the bathroom generally. As you do. If I was going to paint the vanity, then what color should it be? And if I am painting the vanity, I may as well paint the wall as well.
We didn’t do too badly on the bathroom décor front. When you consider what we might have had, given the rest of the house, I think we lucked in with the upstairs bathroom.
I actually like the wallpaper, and the pink and blue 50s tile. So, they are staying for the time being. The obvious safe color choices for the walls and vanity would be blue or white.
This, however, is a temporary bathroom fix, not a forever bathroom, so I can afford to be a little playful, a little risk taking, a little out-there. Oh goody!
It seemed logical to play up the groovy 50s vibe we have going on in there already and paint the walls and vanity something funky! A few weeks ago I bought the Benjamin Moore paint color fan decks. So I got them out and starting auditioning colors. Tangerine orange:
Or bright yellow, perhaps?
In the end, I decided to quieten things down a little and go with pink. Not meek quiet baby pink, though. Loud, crazy over-the-top HOT pink.
The winning candidate was Benjamin Moore Cactus Flower.
And if you are going for hot pink then it just has to be high gloss. So I now own a tin of Cactus Flower in high gloss. Too exciting.
Then because I was thinking about the upstairs bathroom generally, I started looking at the rest of it.
The ceiling light fixture was fine, so it could stay as it was. The one over the mirror, however, needed a little make-over.
I am truly deeply excited about what I am going to do with it, but I am going to keep it as a surprise for you for later.
The glorious flaccid plastic base board (who knew such a thing even existed?) had to go, but that left me with the gap between the tiles and the floor. What to do with that space? That had me stumped for a few hours. It would be easy to replace it with proper baseboard and paint it, but like most of the upstairs rooms the bathroom is asymmetric, and the thought of cutting the angles to get around the non 90 degree corners was doing my head in. W-a-y too much math.
I could, of course, delegate the calculations to the beloved, as anything mathematical is his department, but the thought of having to accurately saw such an angle was too much.
Luckily I came up with a very cool solution. As it relates to what I am doing with the over-mirror light I am also putting this in the ‘you will have to wait and see’ pile.
Finally, my vision alighted on the floor.
Those glorious vinyl tiles. As you know, I scored enough Carrera marble tile to do the floor in here at our local salvage yard. So I guess it would make sense to lay it? Well not really, because the toilet and bath also need replacing (the bath has almost zero enamel left on it), and if we lay it before then, we will have to fiddle around with it later, pulling bits up and then maybe having fill in other places. Messy.
And my brain, being my brain, thought ‘Oh I could just find a new glass frameless shower screen, toilet and bath and replace them too.’ Then lay that beautiful marble. I toyed with the idea for a couple of hours, hunting around on Craigslist for a new bath, shower screen and toilet, but I soon came to my senses.
I firmly reined myself in, and reminded myself that this was not meant to be a major remodel. We are going to do this bathroom properly later. This. Is. The. Quick. Fix.
So it made sense to just leave the floor as it was; it isn’t what I would chose to have there, but it is practical, functional and relatively innocuous.
But there is something about stick-on vinyl tile that just makes your fingers ache to see what it is underneath.
I tried really hard to resist, but I couldn’t help myself. I just had to see if there were mosaics under there, which was conceivable given the age of the tile on the walls. Plus the floor level in there was considerably higher than the floor in the hall outside, so it seemed plausible. Likely even.
Before I did anything, I thought I had better undertake a reality check, as once I pulled up one corner, I knew it would all have to go. I wouldn’t be able to bear having one unfinished corner sitting there, accusing me. So, I ran my mosaic tile theory past the beloved. And he was in. He watched eagerly as I did a section in the corner behind the door.
And what was under there?
Another layer of stick-on vinyl tile.
And under that? Another layer of stick on vinyl tile. Not 1, not 2, but 3 layers of vinyl tile. Piled on top of one another in a kind of historic décor stratification. Underneath all of that were floorboards. Hence the height of the floor. Ugh.
Alas no mosaic.
So my bathroom quick fix has gone from replacing the vanity top and tap, to painting the cabinet and the walls; fixing the vanity lights; replacing the plastic base board; pulling up all the layers of vinyl tile and painting or varnishing the floorboards. Painting, if they are in really bad condition, and varnishing if they look like they will do ok with a skim sanding.
Which was the solution I ultimately arrived at. All those layers of vinyl tile will have to come up sometime, in any case, and it is sadly too soon for my lovely marble. Plus I think varnished or painted boards will look way better than the vinyl tile ever would.
Now I am wondering what color to paint them, if I have to. Not pink I don’t think, there is a limit. Seriously. Maybe blue … or … the verdict is still out on that one.
I think you can already guess what I will be doing after finishing the last few studio-finishing projects. That’s right: not painting the hall as planned. The upstairs bathroom got shuffled to the top of the list. It’s all Craiglist’s fault. And I can’t wait to get started.
Stay tuned for updates. I might even go back to daily posts once I get going.