Tag Archives: bathroom floor

Getting in the mood

Our bathroom remodel has incrementally gone from a minor makeover, to a major job, and I haven’t even started it yet. It’s almost like our bathroom heard about all the work I did in the upstairs bathroom, and wanted to get in on the action.

At least the upstairs bathroom had the decency to wait until I was underway before it started throwing curved balls at me. Like a sibling who feels s/he has been shortchanged, the downstairs bathroom is being downright pushy and demanding in comparison.

The first step beyond the quick fix I planned was when we discovered the leaking tile problem in the shower.

Then we decided to replace the stupid tiny shallow bath with a shower enclosure.

And then this week, the beloved managed to drop the tank lid of the toilet and break it. Oops.

How did he manage to do that? Well the filler part of the toilet sometimes sticks, and you have to take the tank lid off and give it a bit of a tug to get it filling again. And …

So now, instead of replacing the guts of the toilet tank, we are in the market for a new toilet as well.

And what did I do when the beloved rather sheepishly confessed he had broken the toilet? I kissed him. Then danced a little happy dance. New toilet! YAY!!!

I had been planning to put down some laminate click lock flooring over the blah vinyl we have in there as a quick and temporary cover-over, but now the bath is coming out, and the toilet is coming out, it is the perfect opportunity to tile the floor at the same time.

Existing vinyl floor. Could be worse, I suppose …

So, we seem to have added floor tile to the list of things happening in our bathroom. Replace toilet, replace bath, new backerboard and tile on the walls, new tile on the floor. Seems like our bathroom is up for a major renovation.

I have been collecting things for our bathroom makeover for a while now. A few months ago I came across a beautiful black marble vessel sink on Craigslist for $50. Bargain. The same place also had faucets/taps incredibly cheap, so I got one of those, too.

Then I found a place that sold off-cuts of marble, quartz etc for countertops at bargain prices, and had a piece of white quartz cut down and edged to fit the top of our existing vanity cabinet. Suddenly we had a modern black and white vibe going on, which immediately suggested an art deco-style bathroom.

My challenge is how to use the tile to bring it all together. There are so many options, and so many possibilities. As we are trying to do this on the lowest budget possible, I am now scouring Craiglist, the salvage yards and any tile sales I come across in an attempt to find the cheapest, and best, tile possible.

It’s great to find something cheap, but it also has to fit with what I have already collected. So, every time come across something that might work, I set up a mood board to see how it might work.

Here are some that I have already put together:

The first one was inspired by some ‘salt and pepper’ granite tiles that I found at the salvage yard. They have a lot of them, so there would be enough to do the shower surround and the floor.

Option 1

The problem with this is that I think the speckle of the granite and the speckle of the quatz countertop will compete with each other and seem busy. I would prefer a more tranquil feel in our bathroom.

Plus they are salvaged tile, which will need the grout scraping off, and not all of them are in great condition. They clearly weren’t removed as gently as the white carerra marble tile I used in our upstairs bathroom.

My second option was to use some white subway tile from a large hardware chain store, then liven them up a little with mosaic accents on the wall and floor.

Option 2

Then I found some glass mosaic tiles that were on sale. I quite like these small tiles, and would pair them with grey marble tile on the floor (also on sale). I tried two options with this. The first has a plain feature wall.

Option 3

And a striped wall. Which I love the idea of, but might be too busy with this tile.

Hmmm … I like all of these options, and they are all perfectly do-able. None of them are really getting me excited enough to get going with them. What do you think?

In the meantime, my latest craigslist crawl has turned up some white glass subway tile on close-out special. Looks like another mood board might be in order.

Advertisements

Hot and Steamy

You remember how I couldn’t stop looking at the kitchen sink after I installed it? How I kept going back and back every 5 minutes and gazing admiringly at it? Well I am doing it again. Only this time it’s the upstairs bathroom.

When you finally finish a project you cant help but keep reminding yourself that it is over, and that you no longer have to sweat blood and lay awake at night worrying about it. It’s like you have to keep checking that it really is done.

The bathroom is done. The. Bathroom. Is. Done. THE BATHROOM IS DONE. Happy dance!

Last time I wrote about the bathroom as a whole (as opposed to just the vanity cabinet) I had just finished laying the marble tile, and had reinstalled the toilet.

Originally there had been a plastic skirting board that ran around the base of the bathroom wall.

Mmmm … plastic edging. Tasteful. Not.

I enjoyed pulling that out, sooooo much. And throwing it the trash even more. This left me with a rather ugly gap between the wall tile and the floor tile.

A rather ugly gap. Better cover it up.

Taking my cue from the light and vanity industrial/steam punk vibe, I decided to cover this gap with aluminium flashing. I measured it out.

Measuring up

Cut it, then glued it to the wall using construction adhesive.

Done!

That’s better!

And then I re-installed the steam punked vanity:

Installing the upcycled vanity

After that things got really exciting. I was on a roll with the whole industrial steam punk idea, and began tinkering around making things in the studio. Some things were made from scratch and others involved reworking existing objects.

While doing so, I kept thinking about what furniture maker and interior designer Charles de Lisle said in a recent report in Dwell magazine. He suggested that creating interesting rooms isn’t just about going for a certain style, or buying the right stuff, it is about being playful, and trying things out until you find what works.

He said: “It’s not about specific objects; it’s about the process – adding and subtracting things and experimenting with crazy ideas … I look at how pieces talk together and create a narrative. There has to be a story.” (‘Furniture Counsel’ Dwell, Vol 12, No.7, June 2012 p. 52).

The idea of creating a narrative or story in a room, one that emerges by being open to possibilities and ideas, however wild they might seem at the time, has some resonance for me with the upstairs bathroom makeover. I didn’t start out on this bathroom journey thinking that I would work with an industrial or steam punk theme; back when this whole thing started the wildest thing I was planning was to paint the walls a glossy loud pink.

In the beginning there were pink walls to come

But as the bathroom evolved, and different problems cropped up and had to be resolved, this is exactly what emerged. The upcycle of the vanity light:

led to the steam punking of the vanity:

Which in turn suggested other things for the room.  Things like: a planter to sit on the toilet tank (created from a Home Depot wooden window box):

Bathroom planter filled with pink calla lilies (and yes they are real). I wanted some plants to soften the room a little.

And some wall boxes for storage (made out of Ikea wooden boxes):

Steam-punked Ikea boxes became wall shelves

And an industrial style towel rail (made from scratch by me):

My industrial style towel rail

And a hand towel rail (which is actually an Ikea curtain hanger):

Ikea curtain hanger repurposed as a hand towel rail

Rather than bombard you with images of how I made these things, I will deal with each of them separately in posts to come. They all came about from being open and flexible, going with the flow, and taking the ideas where they will.

Which is a pretty unconventional way of approaching interior design. And impossible to do if you are working with contractors: the only reason I could do it this way, was because I was doing it myself.

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for. Now it is time for the big bathroom reveal. I have dropped in a few befores, just to remind us of where it all started.

Before

After

Before

After

before

After

And the perfect place to put my Liz Stops vessels

So beautiful

I think it turned out rather well. Don’t you?

Absolutely floorless

Well almost. Down to the bare boards: that’s where I was last time I wrote.

blank slate

I had wrestled out three layers of vinyl tile, then a layer of rotten plywood underfloor. After much thought and conscience wrangling, I removed the vanity, and finally the toilet. Which left me with a nice blank slate to build from.

In Australia, at this point, you would pour a concrete sub floor, and in it you would include a floor drain, called a Palazzi trap. You would grade the bathroom floor towards the Palazzi trap, so if the bathroom ever flooded, the water goes down the drain, instead of ruining the rest of the floor and the house. Then you tile on top.

They don’t do that here. Here they put down a waterproof membrane, a layer of plywood, a layer of backer board, and then a layer of tile. So if the bathroom floods or the pipes leak, you have to pull it all up again, replace the damaged bits, and start over. Which seems a little crazy to me, but that’s cultural differences for you.

Here pouring a concrete subfloor is considered old fashioned and not to code. And no one has heard of a Palazzi trap. When in America, do as the Americans.

So, down went the waterproof membrane.

A layer of waterproof membrane underneath everything

And down went the ply sub floor. This involved careful measuring, and cutting around the curved-edge bath, and the sewer pipe.

First piece of ply down

This looks challenging, doesn’t it?  It is actually quite straightforward. Lay down an over-lapping layer of masking or painter’s tape, that goes over the edges of the area you want to cut out.

Tape the area you need to cut

Use a craft knife to cut around the edges, carefully peel it away, and then you have a pattern.

Then cut out your pattern

Lay this on top of the ply sheet, and cut around it using a jigsaw.

Place pattern piece on ply, then cut with a jigsaw

See, fiddly, but not difficult. Imagine if I had to cut around the toilet and the vanity. Now THAT would have been fiddly AND tricky. Now do you see why I pulled them both out?

Eventually the ply sub floor was down.

I used the same process with the backerboard, but it needed a layer of thinset (a kind of mortar) underneath.  This ensures a smooth level surface to tile onto.

Backer board down

While I was waiting for the thinset under the backerboard to dry, I set to work on getting the tile ready to lay.

As you may remember, I found enough marble tile at our local salvage yard to do the upstairs bathroom for a grand total of $30.

Marble tile from the salvage yard

The down side of this tile was that some of it had been laid previously. So it had a layer of thinset on the back.

the disadvantage of pre-used tile

Before I could lay the tile this had to be scraped off. And it had to be done carefully so as not to break any, because when I say there was enough to do the upstairs bathroom, there was Just. Enough. To. Do. The. Upstairs. Bathroom. Eeesh.

No pressure or anything. I had about two tiles to spare, so I had to clean and make any cuts I needed to make without really breaking any. At. All. Anyone who has done any tiling knows how tricky this is.

Just as well I like a challenge.

Cleaning the tiles involved soaking them in a bucket for 24 hours to soften the mortar, then using a scraper to scrape them clean.

Soak that thinset!

It wasn’t quick or easy. Wet and repetitive. Luckily I had some assistance in the form of the two children with this process.

I would love to report that they did this happily and willingly, but actually I issued them with a 5 clean tile punishment for every misdemeanor.  Astonishingly, their behavior rapidly became angelic. They were polite to one another, and to us, helpful and cheery. They cleaned up without being asked. Their rooms were spotless, and their homework was done the second they got home.

It was quite strange. Here I was prowling around waiting to pounce on the slightest thing, and there they were frantically being as good as gold.

I think I am going to buy some more tiles from the salvage yard. I am sure I can find some other things to tile.

I know, I’ll turn the backyard into a mini version of Antoni Gaudi’s Guell Park:

Antoni Gaudi: Guell Park. image source

That should keep them out of mischief until they go to college.

I digress. Eventually the tile was all clean and ready to lay. Then I played with a few layouts, and cut all the tiles that needed to be cut to fit around sewer pipes, curvy baths and the asymmetric room itself. I was finally ready to put those tiles down.

Starting to tile

It’s at this stage you start to get excited

And very gratifying it was. After they were laid, I waited overnight and then grouted them.  Then waited over night and cleaned off the last of the grout, and then sealed the whole thing.

In the meantime, as the toilet was out already, we decided we may as well take advantage of our local City’s generous toilet rebate scheme and buy a new low flow toilet. They give you $100 if you replace your old water-waster toilet with a new Watersense accredited one. Our existing toilet used the equivalent of Niagara Falls each time we flushed, and with the rebate – and reduced water bill – as incentive, it made sense to replace it.

Cue several days of internet and Craiglist research. Eventually we settled on a toilet, and I answered a question that had been niggling at the back of my mind ever since I took the toilet out. I had successfully removed a toilet, but could I install one?

The answer to that is yes. Yes I can. And I have the photo to prove it. But as that photo also shows the tiled floor in a finished state, let me first remind you of what the floor looked like originally.

Before

Vinyl tile before

And here it is now.

After

After

After with our shiny new low flow toilet

Isn’t that better?

So the bathroom is getting ever closer to completion.

Best of all, while tiling, I finally figured out what I wanted to do with the vanity cabinet. First it was going to be pink like the walls, and then I tried the same blue as on our kitchen cabinets.

After the first coat of blue

But that wasn’t doing it for me either.

Eventually, my steam-punk upcycle of the vanity lights provided me with inspiration.

Lights post steam-punking

I decided to steam-punk the vanity cabinet. Which is exactly what I am in the process of doing. But you are going to have to wait until it is finished before I show it to you. And that will be part of the big bathroom reveal, coming next time. Stay tuned.

And in case you are wondering happened to the old toilet? I put it on Craigslist for free, of course. And someone wanted it. Really.

He came yesterday and took it away. He was from Tonga, and was going to ship it back to his village at home. I gave him the $20 white vanity top we didn’t use in the upstairs bathroom as well. He said he would take anything we had, and to call him whenever I pulled anything out, he would come and pick it up. Tongan interiors: 1. Landfill: 0.

P-e-r-f-e-c-t.

Crossing the line

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young(ish) woman embarking on a minor remodelling project, must suddenly find herself in the midst of a major one.*

It starts simply enough.  Oh, you think to yourself, I could easily make [insert room here] look so much better if I [insert small project here]. A couple of days work and it will all be lovely.

Occasionally it works out that way. Frequently, though, you uncover something else minor that needs fixing while you are at it, which leads to something else, and before you know it your whole project has avalanched into something huge.

Which has been my experience this week. And, as a result, I crossed a line that I drew for myself only last week. Never say never.

After the kitchen sink distraction, I settled in and started work on the upstairs bathroom. I thought it would take me a few days. A week, tops. So, here we all are, a week later, and … well you will see soon enough.

In truth it would have taken that long but for one thing. You will remember a few weeks ago when I was writing about my plans for the upstairs bathroom, I discussed how, egged on by my beloved, I pulled up a corner of the vinyl stick-on tile in the bathroom. In case there were mosaic tiles underneath.

Given the height of the floor, and the age of the bathroom, it was not an unreasonable assumption. It transpired, however, that not only were there no funky 1950s mosaics hiding under there, there were no less than 3 layers of stick-on vinyl tile, all laid one on top of the other, in an archeological strata of decoration fads from the last 60 years.

After pulling up a corner of vinyl tile

Great. Pulling up one layer of stick-on tile is bad enough, but three? Eeeesh. I affixed my ‘Pfft! I can do that blinkers’ firmly on my face, decided I would do just that, and then paint the plywood subfloor as a temporary improvement until we replace the dead-enamel bath, and water-guzzling toilet. Then we could finally lay the beautiful marble tile waiting under the house for just this occasion.

Because, when you put floor coverings in a bathroom, you really should remove everything first, and tile (or whatever) underneath. Taking your floor covering up to, and around vanity cabinets, toilets and baths is lazy, shoddy and asking for trouble.

You see, if one of your bathroom fixtures (or fittings as we would call them in Australia) leaks, as they do, the water gets under your floor covering and plays havoc. And if you do want to replace your bath, toilet or vanity cabinet at a later date, and it is a different shape to what was there before, you have to do another bodgy fix job to make it work, or totally replace the entire floor.

Plus anyone who has ever laid a floor and had to cut around things knows that it is tricky, and it is actually a whole lot less trouble to remove the fixtures and have a blank slate to work from.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, it is pertinent to what happened in the upstairs bathroom this week, and is the reason that the whole thing ballooned from being a prettification to a major upgrade.

Things got off to an auspicious start. My first task was to do something with the dreadful vanity light. I was inspired by a project I clocked on pinterest a month ago in which Kristine at The Painted Hive upcycled an ugly dated wall sconce into an industrial-chic wall light.

Kristine at The Painted Hive’s wall sconce upcycle

A huge thank you to Kristine for allowing me to use her image. You can check out her blog here. I knew when I saw it that I would use this idea some day, giving it my own twist.

Here is a reminder of what the light looked like before:

Before: outdated dark bronze vanity light

The first stage of this project involved taking off the back panel so I could spray paint over the aged bronze finish. I took out the globes.

And unscrewed the screws, pulled out the bronze globe surrounds, and ran a craft knife around the edge to break the paint seal, then I tugged. Pulled, levered the edge with a screw driver (carefully because I didn’t want to destroy it). Could I get it off? No.

So I decided to spray paint it in situ. I masked off the area, and covered everything with drop sheets (spray paint has a remarkable ability to drift everywhere).

Ready to paint

I sanded and deglossed the back panel.

Sanded and deglossed

I opened the window as wide as possible, fixed my fume respirator firmly to my face, and primed it.

primed and ready for top coat

Then followed it up with two coats of pale blue metallic spray paint in hammered metal finish.

Rustoleum hammered pale blue spray paint

After spraying. A little bleeding here and there, but the wall is about to be painted …

Looks better already. I left it to cure for a good 48 hours, and set to work on the wall.

If you remember from my bathroom planning post, I had decided to paint the walls and the vanity cabinet hot shocking electric pink, which I thought would work beautifully with the existing blue and white damask-look wallpaper, and blue and pink tiles. After replacing the vanity top with the marble one I found in the salvage yard, I changed my mind about painting the vanity cabinet pink, and decided to go with blue instead. More on the vanity cabinet next week.

The pink I chose was Benjamin Moore Cactus Flower in their Advance formula (which is supposed to be extra tough) in full gloss. That wall was going to be hot pink and shiny as all get out.

Exciting. But first I sanded, deglossed and primed the wall. Why did I do this? The wall was already painted with an off-white gloss paint. Paint does not like sticking to gloss surfaces, so I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going to have any adhesion issues.

Primed and ready for top coat

Then on went the first coat. Even though the Advance paint is a water-based acrylic, it takes 16 hours to dry, so while I was waiting, I started work on the floor.

Pulling up the vinyl tile

Those stick-on tiles had to go, not the least because I now had an ugly corner of the room where I had pulled them up.

going, going …

6 hours of sheer grunt labor later and I finally was down to the ply sub-floor.

after pulling up all that vinyl tile

Which is where things began to get interesting.

It was clear that at some point the toilet had a major leak. As a result a large area of the ply sub-floor around the toilet was rotten.

water damaged floor

ply rotting and de-laminating around the toilet

That, right there, is the problem with using stick-on tile in a bathroom. You can never seal it, because there are gaps between the tiles, and water will inevitably find it’s way to the lowest level. In the case of our bathroom, this was the sub-floor, where it was trapped by the layers of vinyl tile above, and had its way with our sub-floor.

Ugh, ugh, triple ugh.

So, you can just cut out the bit of floor that has rotten, and replace it, but given that this represented a third of the floor space in our tiny upstairs bathroom I decided (after getting a second opinion from the beloved) to rip out the lot. And then paint the floorboards that we knew were underneath.

Cue another six hours of sheer grunt labor. It involved cutting a section out with my lovely Bosch Multi-X (I love it more every time I use it), getting under the edge with a pry-bar and slowly prying up it up, releasing nails as I went.

While some of the floor came up in gratifyingly large bits, even this was not easy to get up. Where it had been wet, the ply disintegrated into little splintery flaky bits and it was long slow demoralizing work.

The whole time I was worried that the rot would have spread to the floorboards, and we really would be in a total pickle. The upstairs bathroom is directly above the man-cave, so I knew they looked ok from underneath. As it turned out, luckily they had put a water-proof membrane over the boards, so they were fine, but as soon as I pulled up the membrane I knew painting those boards was not going to work.

There were massive gaps between the boards. Sigh. I thought I could fill them, but then it was starting to become a major project in its own right, and if I was going to have to take the time to fill and sand, it was no longer a quick fix, and I may as well do something a bit more realistic for a bathroom.

The beloved said: ‘Why don’t you just lay those beautiful marble tiles?’ So, I explained all the reasons why laying tiles at this stage was not a great idea.

Which left me a little stumped as to what to do with the floor. Some quick and easy floor covering? Anything as long as it wasn’t stick-on vinyl tile. Shudder. Some other tile? A thought I quickly dismissed as I would have to jack hammer them up when I went to lay the marble. Sheet vinyl? Hardwood floors?

We have a budget of nothing at the moment, so buying anything temporary seemed insane and extravagant. I spent a couple of hours on Craiglist, looking for cheap fixes, but my mind I kept coming back to those lovely marble tiles in our undercroft. We already had them, and they were what I wanted on the floor in the long term.

I did what I usually do when facing a dilemma. I took the dog for a walk, cleaned the kitchen, put through several loads of laundry, made 2 batches of muffins, and paid attention to the children.

And I put the second coat of pink on the walls. Which looked spectacular.

First a reminder of before:

Wall before

And here is what it looks like now:

After

I think the 13 year old’s reaction summed it up perfectly. After he got home from school, he walked into the bathroom, closed the door, and a very loud shocked ‘Wow!’ emanated from inside. Mission accomplished with the pink.

Eventually I decided I was going to lay those tiles. I would suck it up and tile up to and around the vanity, bath and toilet. And keep back enough tile to replace them when we replaced those items.

Then I took the dog for another walk, ran some errands, poked around on the internet, spent way too much time on facebook, and beat myself up for procrastinating when I should be getting on with it. Until I realized what the problem actually was: I really, really, really didn’t like the idea of not doing it properly.

I kept thinking about the tile cuts I would have to make to get around the toilet and vanity, and I just couldn’t bring myself to start. Once I decided that it would be relatively easy to take the vanity out and tile under it, I felt massively relieved. So I removed the vanity.

And pulled up the subfloor under it. Which was also rotten, so I felt instantly justified for doing it. My tiling job just got a whole lot easier.

Which left the toilet. I couldn’t pull that out, could I? I mean, I stated on this blog only last week ‘I will get down and dirty with the plumbing (although I draw the line at anything to do with toilets)’. Toilets are eeewww. Super phenomenal eeewww. It’s bad enough cleaning one, imagine how disgusting it is to take one out.

I spent a restless night, filled with dreams of floods of water and rotting surfaces the children tumbled through. And I got up the next morning, and crossed the line. I removed the toilet.

toilet gone

Yes, it was as revolting as I feared. Apart from that, it actually wasn’t hard. Way easier than the kitchen sink.

Best yet, it left me with a beautiful blank slate for tiling. Which is what will happen next.

Before I did that, though, I decided to finished the vanity light. After a couple of days the lovely hammered blue was cured, and I could set to work on putting the new shades on. I found these work lights with wonderful metal cage covers in the hardware store and thought they would make perfect steam-punk-esque light shades on the vanity light.

The metal cages on these work lights were perfect

You see with everything pink and blue and flowery in there, I felt it needed something to shake it up a little. I have said before that I am a total sucker for anything vaguely industrial, and these were p-e-r-f-e-c-t for what I wanted to do.

The only problem was the little yellow rubber thingys on the end. A simple wave or two of spray paint fixed them.

fixing the yellow bits

I was ready to install them. When I bought them I noticed that metal cage part I wanted to use was attached to the work light with a nut and bolt.

simply a matter of undoing this nut and bolt and removing them

So it was simply a matter of unscrewing this, removing them, then attaching them to the globe holders on the vanity light.

Cool.

While at the hardware store, I also came across these great light globes. I thought they would look perfect in there.

faceted light globes.

Getting them into the metal cages is easy, as they open up so you can change the globe.

cages open making globe changing easy

I screwed in the bulbs, and it was done. Here was the vanity light before:

Before

And here it is now:

After

Might have to do something about the existing ceiling light now

So there you have it, this week’s progress on the upstairs bathroom. Now I need to get the floor layers and tile down as soon as possible. Because living with a teen and a pre-teen and only one toilet – the one in our ensuite – is no fun. No fun at all.

*(Massive apologies to Jane Austin. I stole, and perverted, her sentence only because I love what she wrote so very much.).

In the pink

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:

Our existing vanity top

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:

De-yellowed courtesy of Photoshop

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:

Our new vanity top

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:

Our existing tap

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:

Oh pretty!

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.

Peeling varnish. Not a good look

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.

Bathroom currently

Existing wallpaper is pretty cool!

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:

Mmm, not really

Lime green?:

Oh, I quite like that ...

Or bright yellow, perhaps?

Nah, I don't think so ...

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.

Oh yeah, loving that pink

The winning candidate was Benjamin Moore Cactus Flower.

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.

Existing light is perfectly fine. It can stay.

The ceiling light fixture was fine, so it could stay as it was. The one over the mirror, however, needed a little make-over.

Mmm ... this one needs some work.

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.

Stained plastic edging. Ewwww.

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.

And 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?

Floor layers

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.

Totally marble-ous

I love it when serendipity throws things your way.

The beloved replaced some of the light fixtures (or light fittings as we would call them in Australia) in our kitchen and downstairs bathroom the other day (and there is a post coming on that in future). So we had 4 unwanted light fixtures to get rid of.

We could have thrown them out, but who knows, maybe someone might have a use for them? So instead of adding them to landfill, I took them down and donated them to our local salvage yard.

Now, I have remodeled enough houses on a low budget to know that you never EVER go to a salvage yard without having a good look around. You never know what gem you might find. They have new stuff coming in all the time.

I carry all of the measurements for things I want to replace or fix in the house in the notes section of my phone. That way if I do see something I like or need, then I know if it is going to fit and I can grab it.

So when I found two boxes of Carrera marble floor tiles tucked away on a bottom shelf among boxes of other dreary uninteresting tiles I whipped out my tape measure (yes I am a sad puppy who permanently has a tape measure in her bag), counted the tiles, did some multiplication, and realized that there was enough full tiles there to do the upstairs bathroom floor. Plus there were a stack that had been cut in half, and then a smattering of broken ones.

Two crates of marble tile, just waiting for me

Then I went into haggle mode. The beloved is much much better at haggling than me, but I have learned a few tricks from watching him in action. I knew by the layer of dust on top of these tiles that they had been there for a while. So I figured I was in with a chance for a bargain.

The tiles had a sign saying $1.60 each sitting on top, I found one of the guys that works there, put on my most winning smile, and asked him how much it would be if I took the lot off his hands. We settled on 75 cents per tile for the full size unbroken ones, and he threw in the others for nothing.

75 cents per tile for tiles that normally cost AT LEAST $7 per tile. $7 was the cheapest I could find them for on the internet. B.A.R.G.A.I.N.

Of course, when I got them home the beloved said he could have got them for 60 cents or less, but that was just his haggling pride talking. Actually, if he was there, he certainly would have got them for less, he truly is king of haggling, and I stand humbly in his shadow.

75 cents per tile instead of $7? That will do me!!

As it is I am doing a happy dance. Happy happy happy. That bathroom is going to look amazing with these tiles on the floor.

Before I get to the upstairs bathroom, though, I have so many other things to do. In the meantime, it is great to know that one of the items on our ridiculously long list of Things We Need For The House has been found.

Now I am off to file them in our undercroft until they are needed. Happy happy happy.