Taking “You Can Do It, We Can Help” to a Whole New Level…

About a month ago, Adam and I decided we were going to host a Labor Day weekend barbecue as our first “official” party at our place. (Well, other than the baby shower we hosted there before we even moved in and while the kitchen was under construction… but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

But this is not a recap of that barbecue. (It went well, but there aren’t any interesting stories. It was kind of crappy out, so we all stayed inside. There were many babies, because we have apparently reached that age, which I don’t know how that is possible since I feel about 27.)

No, this is a recap of how everything (minor) that can go (not terribly) wrong in the (complete) renovation of a (teeny tiny) bathroom, does when you are trying to complete it in the week before potentially a few dozen people will be coming over.

My parents came down to visit the weekend before Labor Day to help us out with some things around the house. My dad is incredibly handy, has handled all of the renovation projects they’ve ever done in their home, and has tons of tools. Plus, they actually really like doing these sort of things, so obviously I was being a good daughter by taking them up on their offer of free labor. They were in Hawaii and California for a few weeks before coming to visit us and before they left, my mom told me to make a list of the things we wanted to get done when they came to visit. The day before they arrived, we had a text message exchange that went like this:

Me: Do you think it would be possible for us to start the little bathroom this weekend and finish it by next weekend if we find materials we like at Home Depot?
Mom: That should not be a problem.
Mom: Is there tile on the bathroom floor or walls now?
Me: Nope, vinyl on the floor over concrete. Just paint on the walls.
Mom: That will make it much easier. As long as there are no unexpected surprises it should be doable. Once he sees it he can be more sure.

So, that is how Adam and I decided to tackle a complete bathroom renovation a week before inviting a few dozen people over to our house.

Friday night, we all went to Home Depot and dropped a few hundred dollars (thanks to my Dad for letting us use his 10% off miliary discount!) on a toilet and toilet seat (because the one that comes with the toilet is cheap plastic), a vanity, a light fixture, a toilet paper holder, a hand towel ring, tile and various tiling supplies, and a quart of paint. When we got home (around 9:30 p.m.), Adam and my dad started tearing the bathroom apart – ripping up the vinyl flooring, taking out the toilet, taking the old toilet paper holder out of the wall and then patching up the gaping hole (where they found an empty beer can, likely from 1972). They decided to wait and take out the vanity the next day when they were going to put the new one in.

So far, so good, right?

This is where we congratulate ourselves on having the foresight to move a mile away from a Home Depot. Let’s review this comedy of errors piece by piece:

+ Replace vanity. Realize that old vanity is not the current standard size (probably because it’s 40 years old) and that where the pipe comes out of the wall does not line up with where it needs to go to hook up to new sink. Realize pipe is glued into the wall and that, due to its age, it would not be a good idea to move it.
+ Make trip to Home Depot for something that is supposed to help hook up one pipe to the other. It does not work. Decide to ignore that for now and deal with it later.+ A few days later (after the parents leave) realize we will need to basically construct a new pipe to connect the two ends out of PVC. Buy PVC pieces at Home Depot. Come home. Realize they are the wrong size. Repeat. Repeat again. (Third times the charm!)

+ Glue tile to the floor using 3/8″ spacers.
+ Realize that my dad made an error in measuring the fireplace tile (which we were using as a guide) and we should have gotten 3/16″ spacers.
+ Just deal with it, because that shit is glued down now. Oops.

+ Give walls first coat of paint.
+ Realize that because it’s semi-gloss painted on top of semi-gloss, it does not go on easily and uses up more paint than if it had been a different finish.
+ Realize that we need to buy a second quart of paint. (This room is 5X5, with one door and one quarter of the room taken up by a vanity… one quart was a reasonable estimation.)
+ Go to Home Depot and buy second quart of paint.

+ Begin to install toilet.
+ Realize it is not creating a seal with the wax ring due to (a) uneven floors, (b) uneven toilet (it came crooked in the box), or (c) both.
+ Chip away at tile under toilet until you can make it level enough to create a seal. Pray you don’t screw up the rest of the tile.
+ Seal created, toilet installed.

+ Install faucet.
+ Realize that when you release the plug after stopping up the sink, water leaks out a pipe in the back.
+ Determine a washer is required to stop the leaking.
+ Go to Home Depot and buy a washer.

Towel Ring
+ Hold up towel ring next to sink to determine where to install.
+ Realize that, due to small size of vanity/sink, hanging a towel ring next to the sink actually means hanging it over the sink.
+ Realize that towel ring is actually a pretty cheap looking piece of metal-colored plastic anyway.
+ Go to Home Depot to return towel ring and buy a towel bar to hang over the toilet. While you’re there, buy a matching toilet paper holder and return the cheap-o one purchased previously.

Air Vent Cover
+ Realize after first coat of paint is on the walls that you should probably buy a new air vent cover, since the old one is pretty ugly and the off-white color doesn’t go with the room anymore.
+ Measure old air vent cover.
+ Go to Home Depot and buy new air vent cover.
+ Get home, realize it is the wrong size (pro tip: it’s the INSIDE that you have to measure, not the outside).
+ Go to Home Depot to exchange for proper sized cover.
+ Get home, install, and realize you need to bang some of the metal vent around to get a proper fit.

+ Take door of hinges before starting the demo to paint the inside white to go with the new color scheme.
+ When room is completed, hang door back up.
+ Try to close door.
+ Realize that tile that has gone under the transition in the doorway has raised the transition a fraction of an inch, thereby preventing door from closing.
+ Go to Home Depot to buy door planer.
+ Plane the door, get saw dust all over the living room.
+ Hang up door. It shuts. Thank god… it’s kind of important to have a functioning door to a bathroom.

+ Decide to be resourceful and reuse existing mirror, just painting the frame white.
+ Begin to paint the frame white. Realize the frame really is actually pretty ugly and not worth the cost of the paint it’s sucking up. Toss mirror out with the trash.
+ Grab another random mirror in the house currently not in use. Paint that one white instead.
+ Hang mirror successfully.
(This one did not involve Home Depot. However, it did involve a trip to Michaels, which is on the backside of the same plaza the Home Depot is in, so was made during a Home Depot trip.)

+ Let husband carefully measure where to install back of the light fixture to the wall.
+ Stop him before he starts drilling to remind him that the cover is wider than the back, so if he hangs the back where he has it marked, the cover won’t go on.
+ Crisis averted.

Floor Molding
+ Shockingly, the cutting and installation of this went smoothly.

Whew… that’s it for the renovation. But wait, there’s more!

New Hand Towels and Rug
+ Go to Home Goods. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Marshalls. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Target. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
(Seriously, how hard must this be? All we wanted were some yellow towels and a matching rug.)
+ Go to Pottery Barn. Have no luck finding towels and rug you like.
+ Go to Crate and Barrel. Find towels and rug you like, even though they are not yellow. Hurrah!
+ Bring towels and rug home. Put in bathroom. Realize they don’t actually look good after all. Should have stuck with yellow.
+ Go to Macy’s. Find yellow rug and towels you like. Bring them home. Realize they look perfect.

And, here’s the before…

and the after…

Just to be clear, this did not all occur in one weekend. Oh no, my parents left us with having to (a) clean the grout, (b) paint the walls and trim, (c) install the toilet, (d) install the trim, (e) install the towel and TP holder, and (f) figure out how in the hell to hook up the sink to the pipe coming out of the wall. We expected to have to do most of those things ourselves after they left, but we did not envision being up until nearly midnight every night during the week on it, in a mad rush to complete it before that Labor Day barbecue. We also did not envision needing to go to Home Depot eight times in seven days.

And now, I think we’ll be taking a little break from renovations. (As I ignore our hideous guest bathroom upstairs.)


1 Comment

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One response to “Taking “You Can Do It, We Can Help” to a Whole New Level…

  1. Sarah

    It all sounds like fun to me (honestly). Except for the time crunch part, but I do the exact same thing. I think we have the same lighting fixture in our bathroom right now as in your before pic. The after looks great though!