Have you faced a situation in your home where a hidden problem causes cascading issues that force a remodel that you’re both enthusiastic about (because renovations are exciting) but also thoroughly unprepared for mentally, emotionally, or budgetarily? Yes? No? Maybe so?
Well, this is where I currently find myself:
Ok, ok, ok. I shall explain.
When I bought my home last year, one of the major aspects of my offer was that I would waive the inspection contingency. If you’re generally unfamiliar with real estate lingo (like I am…even after buying two homes), that means if the home was revealed to be in poor condition or required major repairs, I wouldn’t be able to ask the seller for financial assistance to cover any of it. Essentially, it meant that I delivered an “all or nothing” offer (even though a “nothing” decision would still mean forfeiting a deposit, but I digress). Was this a risky move? Absolutely. Did I really want this house? Absolutely. Decisions were made in consideration of the latter, and I remained blissfully ignorant of some clear issues that existed.
Which brings us back to the matter at hand: the gaping, ominous hole in my kitchen ceiling. A couple of months after moving in, I noticed some slight water damage on my kitchen ceiling, which sits directly underneath my bathroom. It didn’t really register to me as water damage at the time (admittedly a fairly big oversight on my part), and, of course, the damage kept getting worse and worse. Once I fully realized what was happening, I called in the experts to diagnose the source of the leak–fearful that a plumbing or pipe issue was the root cause. Eventually (and after ripping a hole in the kitchen ceiling), we realized the leak occurred as a result of old, cracked tiling in the bathroom above and a poor caulking job around the perimeter of the bathtub. In that grand scheme of things, that didn’t seem so bad, but it led to a series of intensely contemplative decisions about what exactly to do about it.
I didn’t originally plan to overhaul this bathroom. I actually quite like the character of the floor tile, and figured that I’d just keep all the tiling throughout the bathroom and update the space by switching out the vanity, mirror, and other fixtures. BUT, ALAS. Life hit me in the face with a curveball, so I’m throwing a curveball right back at it. I’m lucky enough to be in a position to afford this renovation (I’m knocking on the rotted wood in my ceiling that more unexpected issues don’t arise…which is very naive of me) even though it wasn’t necessarily planned at this point, and I’m able to reprioritize some financial obligations to make it happen sooner than expected. HOWEVER, I do owe some of my position to proper preparation and planning (…you know I love me some alliteration):
- I’m a fairly stingy person with my money, and I save pretty aggressively in anticipation of these sorts of unexpected things. It pains me deeply to pull money out of my savings account for this project, but if there’s a place to spend it, it’s on the remodel of a space that I spend tons of quality time sitting in…TMI?
- Over the last year, I’ve iteratively conceptualized and/or purchased bathroom fixtures that I knew I’d eventually use, even though a specific renovation timeline wasn’t established until, like, last week. For example, I purchased this vanity before I even moved in (I’ll go into more detail about it shortly), and I sourced most of the other fixtures ahead of time as well.
Now, perhaps the biggest pain point here is that this is my only bathroom. I’m planning to stay elsewhere during parts of the renovation that make the bathroom inhospitable, but what happens if it takes longer than expected? Well, I don’t really know the answer to that, if I’m being honest. I’m planning to wait until all functional components of the new bathroom are delivered before we start tearing things apart–in an effort to minimize the time I’ll be without a bathroom–but I’m certain that unexpected issues will prevent things from going as smoothly as I’d like. I’ll be learning a little (a lot?) about what it takes to tackle the renovation of the single bathroom in a house, and I’ll definitely report back with lessons learned! Let’s hope I’m not couch surfing for months. Flexibility is the name of the game right now, whether I like it or not.
After reframing my expectations and pivoting the planning phase of the bathroom, I consulted Emily to help me think through some of my plans–most of which center around the idea of maintaining the original character and quality of the space.
MAINTAINING A 1930s FRAME OF MIND: AKA STICKING TO THE ERA OF THE HOME
If I had to boil down my style into three words, they’d be tailored, classic, and collected. Much of that mindset was manifested in my bedroom remodel from earlier this year (check out that series if you haven’t!). My house was built in 1939, and I don’t ever want to take it to a place aesthetically that doesn’t align with its vintage charm.
Some of the qualities of my home that I LOVE are the elements that [I think] are original. I love the vintage door hardware, the original hardwood floors, and in this context specifically, the quality of the original features in the bathroom. As such, I want to maintain as much of that character as possible, while bringing the space into 2021 in a way that feels authentic and tailored to me.
1. Wallpaper | 2. Lewis switch plate | 3. Palmer medicine cabinet | 4. Glass bottle | 5. Rollins cross handle sink faucet | 6. Vanity | 7. West slope double towel bar | 8. Kohler toilet | 9. Connor faucet supply lines | 10. Pink vase | 11. Yaquina glass shelf | 12. Connor tub/shower set | 13. Organic waffle shower curtain
Collected? Chickity chickity check.
Now, one of the biggest questions that I have for this space is what kind of lighting I want to use. I’m caught between hanging a single pendant from the ceiling above the sink like a beautiful little piece of jewelry and maintaining the placement of the light that exists currently. The single pendant option just feels like me, but it might not provide for enough functional light, and it would be expensive to move electrical wiring to make it happen. Maintaining the current placement–but updating the fixture–feels like the fiscally responsible option and perhaps more authentic to the space, but would it be interesting enough? I posed the question to Emily when I shared these plans with her, and she shared that there are some great sconce options out there to choose from, and going that direction would allow me to keep the junction box where it is.
Here are general illustrations of both options (along with options for wall treatments):
Option 1: Painted Walls & A Multi-Bulb Sconce
Option 2: Wallpaper & A Single Pendant
What do you think? Single pendant, or multi-bulb sconce? Also, wallpaper, or painted walls? So many decisions to make!
Another thing I am very excited about is my plans for the floor tile. As you can see in my mood board above, I am going for a frame tile design that just SCREAMS “classic” to me, and I’ve been spending a lot of time detailing exactly how it’ll look. I’m opting for a marble floor to turn the timelessness up to an eleven, but also utilizing a pattern very similar to the original tile as an homage to this bathroom’s humble beginnings.
I should address the elephant in the room (unless I’m projecting said elephant…): opting for a pedestal sink in the only bathroom in the house. I will fully admit that is definitely not the most viable option for a vanity when it comes to storage. BUT. I personally never use things that I keep under the sink. There is also a linen closet directly outside of my bathroom that I plan to outfit with novel storage solutions as a part of this bathroom renovation (would you be interested in hearing more about that?). I’m also generally very, very, very drawn to the look of a brassy pedestal sink. It hits all of the right marks, in my opinion. I think it’s important to underscore the power of designing your home for you–and not for the outlook of resale in the future–because honestly, future homeowners will likely move in and make their own changes regardless. Do you! Make yourself happy!
You’ll find that most of my interior inspiration usually is centered around hospitality design. That’s the case for a few reasons: because my love for environmental graphic design usually results in an appreciation for well-branded spaces, because hotel rooms are generally designed with an intense intentionality that resonates with me, and because they’re generally designed to be easily conducive to establishing pragmatism and routine.
UNDERSCORING ROUTINE-BUILDING BEHAVIORS
If you read my primary bedroom renovations series of articles, you might recall that establishing routines is extremely important to me. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and mental health, daily patterns create a strong foundation on which I can start my days, end my days, and center myself (it’s a good thing I established my bedroom as a space of calm, because I’ll definitely need it to get me through this bathroom renovation!).
While the bedroom is where step one of my nightly routine takes place, the bathroom is where the [longer] second part of my routine occurs. I usually shower at night (I’m curious–are you a night showerer or a morning showerer?), tend to my beard, indulge in some self-pampering if time allows, and organize any toiletries I’ll need in the morning–all while listening to some amalgamation of Adele, Sam Smith, and other similarly melodramatic artists. Suffice it to say, it’ll be SO NICE to have a bathroom that is conducive to this aspect of my day.
With all that being said, a medicine cabinet is going to be CLUTCH in this remodel. I’m eyeing this one from Rejuvenation, which seems like a healthy alternative to the toiletry bag that I currently use to store all of my bathroom things. Also, the mirror currently in my bathroom is VERY LOW on the wall, which has inspired me to invest in a tall mirror that will make it easier to trim my beard and cut my hair. On that note, I’m brainstorming a multi-mirror solution that will allow me to easily see the back of my head while I’m shaving it. Perhaps that can take the form of an accordion mirror, like so:
At any rate, you can see that I have a TON of decisions to make! The real work in this space will start over the next few weeks, and I’m excited (and mildly anxious) to get this project started. In true fashion, I’ve asked for lots of opinions in this article…so please, let me know your thoughts down below!