Friday, March 04, 2011

Finally DONE!

About two years ago (give or take six months), the toilet in the main bathroom upstairs sprung a leak.  It was one of those slow leaks that you know nothing about until you look up at the ceiling when you are in the room directly below the john, and notice black patches.  A call to the plumber and about $150 later, we discover that the leak had likely been going on for months, and the floor underneath the gaudy lino was particle board and not plywood.  Sigh.

The plumber was great.  He told us what to do, and once we did it, to call him back and he'd get everything up and running.  Basically we had to rip up the floor around the toilet, lay down some plywood, and he'd come back and get the toilet on.  Ken and I chatted back and forth, trying to decide if we should just replace the whole floor, or just the damaged area.  And then we thought about renovating the whole bathroom. 

Exhibit One:  Our ugly bathroom (notice I didn't bother to tidy before taking the photo)

Our house was built in the early 80's, and this bathroom is a good example of ICK.  It was functional, although I prefer more drawers than the cupboards.  Don't you just love the lights?  And if you look to the far right you'll see about a foot of totally wasted space under the counter.  

The toilet is disconnected, but what six year old would realize that when he was over for a playdate?  After one of Nick's little friends used the toilet for what it SHOULD be used for, not realizing it wasn't functional, and us discovering the mistake a few days later (we walked around for awhile trying to figure out what was THAT SMELL upstairs) we taped the toilet closed.  The lovely taped up toilet stayed like this for the better part of two years.  Yes, we are a little slow. 

Here is the bathtub.  You can't really tell in this photo, but it is the colour of blech beige.  The tile is quite dated too, but I have seen worse. 

Quite honestly, the bathroom (before the toilet leak) was nowhere near the top of my list of "to do" items in the house.  I'd have much rather done the kitchen.  But to do the kitchen, we would have to knock down walls and rearrange lots of stuff, and the cost would be out of the stratosphere.  So the bathroom it was.  Too bad we decided AFTER we missed the deadline for renovation credits on our taxes and before the new sales tax was implemented in BC.  OOPS.

I had an idea of what I wanted.  And we had a budget.  We had a contractor that we really liked who did work for friends and did a fantastic job.  After I grilled him about safety, and recovered from my heart attack after seeing his quote, we decided to go ahead with using him.  The only down side was that we couldn't get a designer, and that we'd have to do all the designing and choosing materials ourselves (which in the end I think worked out well, but I sure as heck won't do that when we renovate the kitchen in oh about 20 years).

I thought I knew what I wanted, until I went looking and was overwhelmed with choices.  Thankfully Ken and I are very similar when it comes to what we like, so that part of choosing stuff was a breeze.  For the most part I picked and he agreed.  The only aspect that we clashed over (and I think that is even too strong a word) was the floor tile.  In the end, I got my way, and he really liked the result (whew). 

Once the contractor got in the house, the job was mostly done in about two weeks.  Bits and pieces at the end took awhile to get done, but overall it was very smooth.  The contractor and crew were excellent.  They tore the bathroom to the studs, and for me, that was the worst part - I had huge fears that they would find something wrong, and our bank account would be drained (well, more so than it was already).  Thankfully everything was great, no problems found at all. 

The only hiccup with the whole process were the cabinets.  We used a reputable company, and the cabinets themselves are great (and we got a good deal).  But the installation - BRUTAL.  I have never seen such a mess in my whole life, and honestly, I'll never use the company again based on that alone.  They didn't even seem to care when I called to complain about the state of the house after the cabinets were in.  In fact, our contractor said that if that had been one of his guys, he'd have fired him. 

So, here are the after photos (and now that we have so much storage, there is no crap hanging out on the counter!):

 We decided to go with a linen tower, which I LOVE.  Lots of extra storage, which will come in handy when all the kids have to share a bathroom when they are older (because we are never moving.ever.again.)

 Originally we were going to go with dark cabinets, but then I wasn't sure about tile with that, so we decided to go with white and then do a dark counter and floor.  If I change my mind about colour, I can always paint the walls darker.  Ken wasn't sure about the tile size, but after it was put in he really liked it. 
 The drawers make a big difference, I do prefer them over the cabinets we had before.  And I love my square sink. 
 The only downside with going square was matching everything up.  The only square fixture we could find for the shower was this one above, and while I love it, the colour (a gun metal grey) was tough to match with other fixtures (handles on the cupboards and the lights).  And I love subway tile.  I found some other tiles I loved, but I think they would have dated pretty quickly.  Subway tile is one that will stand the test of time (I hope - and if it doesn't, too bad).
 One thing I love about the shower/tub is the little nook the contractor built in.  I originally wanted it on the longer wall, but he suggested putting it at the end, his reasoning was that you don't want people to see all your crap when they open the shower curtain.  Good suggestion!
 And finally, I wanted one of the curved shower rods that they have in many hotels.  I love it!

I haven't done the final numbers yet, but we were really close to our original budget.  Thankfully we had no surprises and a great contractor.  YEA!!!