Cosmic lessons in patience: The bathroom remodel edition

“Two to three weeks,” he said.

“Bathrooms are small and easy,” he said.

“Okay, let’s do it,” we said.

And the universe laughed.

Seventeen weeks and two days later, our new bathroom was finally finished.

We’d had “tile the bathroom” on the to-do list for years and years thanks to the death mold growing on the lovely carpet the original builders installed underneath a leaky shower door. 

The before.

Mr. T and I spent AGES interviewing contractors and trying to decide if we were just going to do the tile, or if we wanted to be more ambitious and fix the shower as well, or if we wanted go whole hog and redo all the things. It’s just (buckets of) money, right? Eventually, the desire to have a shower that was big enough to turn a circle in without elbows knocking open the door won out, and we found a crew to help us.

Initially, we planned to start construction after Christmas, since the contractor was booked solid until then. We’d have time to pick out tile and argue about fixtures. But a cancellation meant his schedule was suddenly open for a few weeks in early September. I’d just written this post about reclaiming my time and thought “Why not? Early semester is probably a fine time to get this done.” [Can you hear all of the other teachers/professors of the world cackling?]

And so, we got started. And by got started, I mean, dudes began demolishing the old bathroom and we had to start picking out materials ASAP.  Oh, and did I mention this was 16 days before I threw T a huge 50th birthday bash? Apparently I thrive on pressure.

One of my requirements for contractor hiring? That I be allowed to smash something during the demolition. So on my second day of school in the fall, in a work dress and heels, I took a giant crow bar to the vanity and the odyssey that was our bathroom remodel began. (It wasn’t as cathartic as I hoped though. I wasn’t allowed to smash anything really fun because I wasn’t wearing safety equipment, but I do think the crew got a kick out of the attempt.)

At first, things progressed at a nice clip. While the crew demolished our bathroom, I spent way too much time looking at tile and stressing out about coordinating colors and patterns. T and I argued about whether to use the vintage exposed thermostatic shower fixture he’d had in the attic for a couple decades. And once we’d agreed on the fixture, we had to battle whether to try and match the brass, or do mixed metals. Although T and the contractor initially disagreed with me about mixed metals, Shawna and the power of Pinterest prevailed as you’ll see below. We quickly picked out fixtures, tile, paint, and granite, and each day I looked forward to coming home from work and seeing how much the space had changed.

Clyde and Walter were an integral part of the remodel team, keeping an eye on progress, sampling drywall, and stealing tile clips.

Somewhere a few weeks in, progress started to stall. I won’t bore you with the MONTHS of details, but after the demolition, it felt like everything that could go wrong did. There was the new wall we needed to change, a flooring replacement, and “Granitegate 2018.” When friends would ask early on, I’d joke that the job that started right after Labor Day might be done by Halloween. Then Halloween turned into Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. By New Years, I figured I should stop making joke predictions or it would never be finished.

Thankfully though, we wrapped the project just after the new year and we’ve been enjoying the luxurious, death-mold-free zone ever since.

grey white master bathroom remodel
The finally finished powder room! Since the original home builder opted to put tons of useless real estate in here instead of the closet, I’m planning for some kind of armoire/cabinet along the left wall some day.
One challenge about having everything custom was making *so* many decisions. Color, style, size, materials, positions, shapes… It was exhausting and will definitely make me think twice (or a thousand times) about ever designing a whole house!
The only elements to survive our old bathroom–the tub, window coverings and that framed mirror. All of the contractors I interviewed were shocked to find the tub actually gets regular use.
Behold! The leg-shaving shelf–something every woman who visits spots immediately! I love functional touches like this little seat and the recessed shelves for toiletries, as well as creative flourishes that the constructor suggested like capping the wall, seat, and window ledges in granite to match the vanity.
Initially, I’d planned to do a simple white counter top, not ever having been a fan of granite. That was until I met this blue antico. I didn’t realize it was possible to fall in love with a slab of rock (and yes, I know that sounds ridiculous).
One thing I loved about the project was supporting local vendors and artisans, even if it did add (a lot of) extra time.
Our design challenge was to coordinate with this most awesome brass shower fixture. T bought it on eBay eons ago and it had been languishing unloved in our attic. We initially attempted to match it but found that the newer metals would never be a perfect fit (and I also didn’t relish the idea of that much shiny brass). So we opted to keep the shower as a statement piece and balance it with the gold framed mirror at the opposite end of the room. All of the other fixtures, including lights, Victorian-inspired double tower bars, Sigma Reserve faucets, drawer pulls, and shower handles are in polished nickel.


P/S If you’re looking for more grey/white bathroom inspiration, I’ve got a couple hundred ideas saved here on Pinterest.


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