Four months later, the final details are finished! Things got delayed because I was M.I.A.: Lost in the Garden for several weeks. I’m really happy with the final results, and finishing the last things myself after the ridiculousness of the ‘designer‘ I hired, was especially satisfying. Now it’s entirely my vision and finished to the level I expect. Anal? Well, yes I am.
The only thing I really don’t like about the new bathroom?
I still have to clean the damn thing! 😏
BEFORE PHOTOS – not terrible just ugly – and the tub leaked.
AFTER – Simple and clean, simple to clean. Aaah!
Disclaimer: This is staged – the floofy white hand towels are only for my sink. The kids will use the old black towels until I find the right shade of dark blue. White towels wouldn’t last two days!
I love these air plants – so easy to look after, just soak them in the sink overnight every 7-10 days.
I made this towel rack from a piece of driftwood I found on Willows Beach. I followed these instructions but first I baked it for several hours in a 200 degree oven, flipping it every hour, to make sure it was really dry and there were no critters living in it. I sprayed it with matte sealant which changed the colour a little bit but I’m okay with that.
I also added invisible hangers by drilling two holes all the way through under two of the hangers, then using a countersink to stop the long screws from going all the way through. It’s really solid on the wall just with plastic anchors and long screws. I love that it’s one-of-a-kind and that I made it myself. So satisfying!
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. I’d love to hear any comments, and if anyone is working on a self-cleaning bathroom, let me know!
Remember The Gong Show? Hilariously innocuous in its innocence. Beware the reality when you take on a home renovation. I wanted my next and last post to be the final reveal, since this project started in January. But after 11 weeks I finally kicked them all out, tired of being a hostage in my house. Luckily I’m pretty handy – just call me Handy Mandy 🤓, so I’m finishing the details myself. I thought it was only fair to share what I’ve learned.
Should you hire a designer? Possibly. Here’s what you should be careful of:
1) Anyone can call themselves a designer.
Personally, I have an issue with calling myself an expert in anything, even teaching which I think I was pretty good at. Or adulting for that matter, and I have a fair amount of experience in that at this point.
But some people are happy to not only claim themselves as experts but to try to charge crazy amounts of money for their supposed expertise. Key word is try. 😏 It’s trying to figure out whether it was ignorance or straight manipulation that’s doing my head in at the moment.
Which brings me to my second point –
2) Don’t wait until you’re so desperate you hire the first person who wants the job.
I have always trusted my instincts about people and I’m usually pretty spot-on. This time, I was blinded by assurances of what a simple job it was and how they’d love to make it happen as quickly as possible. Yet, there was no planning whatsoever put into the job before it started. I didn’t listen to that little voice raising the red flag.
Then, when they start using tactics like dropping personal histories and troubles, particularly financial, blaming every one else for the problems created through lack of planning, that red flag was waving right in my face until I couldn’t take it anymore.
Eleven weeks later, I’m finishing the details myself.
3) Have a firm start date and end date.
Eleven weeks!!! And there are still problems they have to come back for that I refuse to take on. Not cool for a simple remodel. Also, see below.
4) Set clear working hours.
When you live with a chronic illness, any disruption to your routine can cause things to go haywire. Never knowing when someone might actually show up, and even more having someone decide to work 11am-7pm, is just not feasible.
I have about three hours of the day when I’m good (11am-2pm). Anytime after 4pm, I need quiet, not all sorts of power tools and someone going in and out my front door. I feel like I haven’t been able to relax in my house since January.
5) Know exactly what they’re offering for the price.
I’m too damn trusting, and I think that everyone behaves in the world with the same integrity I do. I’ve said it before, I’m a dumb ass.
– Does the price include drawings of the finished space?
– What specific planning have you done for the project?
The answer in this case was a Pinterest inspiration board 🤯 When I had to call the cabinet maker back because they had not installed soft-close hinges on the vanities, he actually said “I’m really sorry, there should be a list.” 🤯🤯🤯🤯 D’ja think????
– Will you be on site on the days things are being installed?
– What is the exact timeline? (See #3)
6) Ask to see all receipts.
The contractor gave me the receipts and said there were just a ‘few’ missing. However, when I added them up, there was almost $1100 unaccounted for. Then, I noticed that the plumbers charged us twice for installing the tub fixtures, and the electrician charged for three times as many hours than he actually worked. I almost just paid the invoices to be finished with these people but I would have spent more than $1500 in unnecessary, inflated costs.
You can’t trust people to be honest. Sad but true.
Fortunately, the tradespeople on the project did decent work (eventually, except the electrician) and because I had a clear idea of the design I wanted, the bathroom turned out beautifully. It was a steep learning curve though, and next time I will be very, very careful about who I trust as a designer. Or I’ll just trust myself.
Now there’s an idea.
Have you had a similar experience? Any other tips for future projects?
Anyway, we’ve been in a holding pattern waiting for the vanity pieces (supposed to be last week) to be sprayed and the countertops cut (also supposed to ‘fit us in’ faster than their usual two-week turn-around – it’s been two weeks). Such is life.
Luckily, the toilet, tub and shower are completely functional (well, for most of us – see below), the tile is gorgeous, and I’m super happy with the shower door. Totally functional and much cheaper than custom glass.
Check it out:
So, there is a problem with the shower, as I mentioned above. It wouldn’t be a problem if all our children were munchkins like me, but our son has sprouted like Mike TeeVee after the taffy machine (our girls are in the Willy Wonka musical, couldn’t resist the reference). And… the rain shower head is about 1/2 an inch from his noggin.
Not sure what the solution is, or who will be expected to pay for it. We’ll see when the plumbers come back to install the sinks. Overall though, the work is being done beautifully and I know when we get ‘there’, we’ll nail this sucker down, just like good old Luke.
Unlike the hobbit tub that was first installed, this is the tub I was after. Besides being much deeper, wider and longer than the flimsy all-in-one unit suggested by the bathroom place, it doesn’t have the non-slip bottom that asks for grime to build up. Hallelujah!
Best part, even though the bathroom store refused to take responsibility, my designer and plumber wanted to make it right, so they charged no fee for the initial demo, are paying for the tub and will sell the other one, to be applied to the next invoice. At least some people take accountability seriously.
The shower tile (blue accent tiles next – weee!) should be finished on Monday, then he’ll grout the shower and floor tile before building the vanities. Hopefully by the end of next week, we’ll have a mostly functioning bathroom again.
I had a momentary freak out when I saw the floor tile because it read really grey, and thought they’d ordered the wrong tile. Seeing it against the bright orange tile mat made the colour read grey instead of sandy brown. Seeing it in bright light reassured me, then once it covered the floor, all was well.
The most interesting thing about having a major renovation done, is seeing the images in your head take concrete form. However, it doesn’t always come out the way you imagine, or the picture may need to be tweaked along the way.
For example, I wanted the floor tile to run lengthwise into the bathroom, to match the hardwood in the hall. The tiler explained how tile needs to flow into a room, and should run the length of the room. Also, I wanted two inlay soap dishes but they couldn’t be centred on the wall because of where the studs are. So, we compromised on a big one with two sections.
I think having a chronic illness helps with the inevitable hiccups and delays that go along with a renovation. We’re used to readjusting our expectations on a continual basis, so we can handle the bumps with flexibility. Usually anyway. 😉
Out to the sunshine I go. After our freak snowfall and deep freeze, it feels like spring out there again!
I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
It’s a bird… it’s a plane…it’s a… tub on my front lawn. I should have sat in it.
It didn’t take long to rip out the old slime tub. Happily, there was no damage from the leaking. So, straightforward, right?
The new tub was supposed to be ready on Friday and I pictured myself having all weekend to enjoy it. Of course, there were complications and they had to come finish on Monday. So I had to wait until Tuesday, and the anticipation was killing me.
I got out my new bath pillow, tub caddy and even bought season 4 of Outlander. Bliss here I come…
And then I got in. And I tried to enjoy it, I really did. The Outlander was great, but it was hard to concentrate on it because I could hear the water dumping down the overflow. It eventually stopped, unless I moved in any way.
By the time the water finally stopped escaping out the very low overflow, I was hardly submerged. Not to mention, I have never been accused of blocking anyone’s view in the theatre at 5’3″ on a tall day, but I couldn’t fit my body into that tub in any comfortable way that would keep at least 50% of me covered.
This is how much water was left when I got out.
Ummm… yeah. Awkward.
This is not a tub, it’s a stub.
The problem was, I had been diligent in going and planting my butt in every tub in town. I finally picked one, went with the designer to order it and everything else. It was only once they sent the estimate that they mentioned the tub unit would take 6 months to arrive!
So the designer got on the horn and asked them to recommend a similar tub that wouldn’t take so long. Out of the two options, I picked the one I liked better from the pictures. I didn’t go see it, or sit in it.
TIP: Always sit in the tub. Always. Always. Always.
I have been dealing with overwhelming depression and anxiety for the last few weeks, so the thought of speaking up and telling the designer I wasn’t happy was almost impossible. But the thought of accepting a sub-standard, too small tub after waiting for so long was creating even more anxiety. Good times.
TIP: Hiring a designer is worth every penny.
I tried the tub one more time then I emailed her. I got all trembly and stupid because my MS goes haywire when I get nervous, but at the same time some of the anxiety was alleviated even before she responded.
Instead of swirling in the ugly of ‘should I?’, I moved into action and it helped.
What helped even more was that my lovely designer got back to me right away and said exactly the right things. She got the bathroom place to start scouting out longer, deeper tubs in stock close by. She asked if I would consider tiling because that would give us more options. I had originally wanted tile but thought I wanted to avoid cleaning grout. Truth is, I cheaped out.
I was prepared to swallow the installation cost in order to get things done right, but she’s also getting in touch with the right people to get a refund. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible. Go back and read that last tip again. 😊
So, I didn’t really want to call this part 2 because it’s more like 1.5. But there is no terrible renovation story here, really.
1) She had the foresight to only demo the tub, the rest of the bathroom was left intact.
2) We have a working tub again, for the first time in 3 years. I’m really happy I didn’t sit in it on my front lawn or I might still have a big hole in my bathroom.
3) There is no damage from the old leaky tub, the pipes had just separated from the volume of sludge (read part 1 here) so when the tub had the weight of water and a person in it, the water would leak out the seams and run down the outside of the drain pipe.
4) My designer is taking on the battle for me, dealing with all the logistics. It’s off my plate but I will end up with a bathroom that we’ll be happy with for years to come.
5) Using the tub and handheld shower with no curtain, reminds of when I lived in Paris in 1994. So many fun memories, I had to dig out the pictures.
Talk about a tangent. Anyway, all is well that hasn’t ended yet. Wait, that’s not how it goes. 😋 Right now, we’re in limbo but with a mostly functioning bathroom until I pick and order a new tub then wait for it to arrive. All of us spoonie warriors are experts at the mental limbo, it’s where we live our lives. I got this.
As far as the mental health, I gave myself a few days to rest and read and nothing else, now I’m back to pushing myself to get out of bed and accomplish one minor task, which usually leads to a bigger one.
For example, I really didn’t feel like writing this blog post so I told myself to just upload the pictures. I started with that, and then the words came. They didn’t want to when I just tried thinking about it.