Saturday, June 8, 2013

DIY Bathroom Remodel... From Blah Bath to Spa Bath!

We agreed to buy the house we liked the least because it sits on the piece of property we liked the most. We did this because aesthetically, we know everything can be changed and improved relatively easily. The relative parts being time and money, of course. However, one thing that cannot be changed, regardless of how much time or money you have, is the amount of property between your house and your neighbors!
So after sharing a backyard fence with five other homeowners in an HOA that put the ass in association, we decided to forgo the open floor plan, double vanity sinks and walk-in closets we'd become accustomed to and exchanged them for wide open spaces and as much distance between us and others that our money could buy!

Although every inch of the house had to be cleaned before we could unpack our suitcases and after it was cleaned, everything in the house had to be ripped out, we saw glimpses of potential everywhere we looked. I wish I could tell you it was a labor of love but it was hurry up and get it done so I can love it, more than anything else.

Remodeling our new landscape took the back yard
view from this (seen after a major clean up, seed and feed!)...
To this!
And, the side yard property went from this on the day the
former owners accepted our zero contingencies, full-price offer...
To this!
Even before being enhanced with thousands of plants, shrubs, trees, accent
lighting and a swimming pool, the property was priceless to us. However,
inside, there wasn't a thing worth keeping. Miles of 70's wallpaper, tan shaggy
carpeting, popcorn ceilings, drafty single-pane windows, Formica counter tops,
wall radios, funky light fixtures, brass faucets, short toilets, a leaking solarium...
And one very, very brown kitchen sink...
All simply had to go!
If the original owners of our home came to visit tomorrow, they would only
recognize the rooms by their location... Because nothing inside is as it was. Every
room was completely ripped out and put back together again during our first
year. Except for the bathroom the boys shared, that is. Now, we did replace the
beige sink and toilet, installed shower doors, ripped down the wallpaper and
painted the walls, trim and the vanity. Plus, we tiled the vanity counter top...
But we decided after we finished the master bathroom
and the half bath downstairs that the upstairs full bath could
probably wait until the boys left home. Then the boys left
home and remodeling their bathroom became less important...
Until each time my parents visited and I had to use their shower!
It's half the size of my shower and the shower head was at eye-level,
which made doing a back-bend a requirement in order to rinse my
hair. Looking back on it, we should have realized remodeling this
bathroom was necessary after Ranger hit 6-feet tall his junior year!
Nevertheless, we're older and wiser now and, I was really sick and tired
of having to wait until we traveled to enjoy a long soak in a nice bathtub. It
didn't take a lot of convincing to get Army dad on board with my plan but I
wanted to approach this project a bit differently from all the other renovations
we've undertaken in this house. Instead of buying all new things for top-dollar, I
decided to make a little game out of re-purposing some things and sourcing other
things through places like building supply surplus stores and our HFH restore!
Since my design for the new bathroom didn't include installing another vanity
and I wanted to keep the floor space clear, I chose to hang another wall sink
like the one I planned for my bathroom in our master bedroom. Imagine my
surprise when I found this sink and its matching bidet marked just $45 each!
It's especially incredible because if you'll go back and look at the sink we put
into the bathroom, it's also a Kohler Portrait! Now, what are the chances of that?
Such a gorgeous piece of China and, made in the USA too! That faucet matches
the one that is on the sink too. When I looked it up, I couldn't believe the
price! I still cannot believe I found a $725 sink with a $450 faucet already
installed for $45. Honestly, until I saw this I never wanted a bidet but it
truly broke my heart to leave the match to my beautiful sink behind!
As for the bathtub I imagined in my new spa bathroom... In my head it was
this one we stumbled on at our local building supply surplus store. But,
while the price was hard to pass up, what would fit had to be more like...
These bathtubs!
I liked this one a lot...
Which is what I initially chose. However, upon closer inspection,
we discovered this $1,000 tub, priced only $250.00, was cracked
so we were forced to keep looking. In the end I was glad because
the bathtub I ended up with is an even better fit for our bathroom!
While I was out shopping and finding deal after deal of the century,
someone at the house was very busy working hard for me!
We originally planned for this project to take between six and eight
weeks to complete. However, the day after the old bath tub landed at
the dump, my parents phoned to say they were moving their visit up
to arrive in just three weeks. Upon hearing this, the electrician we
contracted to install separate outlets for our new whirlpool and
heater said, no one could finish a project like this in 3 weeks!
Fortunately though, DIY also means you just
do it youself according to your own hours!
And, boy did it take hours to rip out this bathroom! Mostly because
this house was built like a tank. Take for example these five nails used
to secure a single side board on the old vanity to the wall. It ended up
being much easier to bust the wood out of these nails than it was to...
Remove these wicked, four-inch twisted nails from the wall!
Once everything was out of the room, it was time to reconfigure all
of the plumbing, set the new tub and begin adding wallboard for tile!
But before carrying it upstairs, we tested my new
whirlpool for leaks and whirl outside on the driveway!
Once it passed the leak and whirl test, the heater was installed...
priced just $350.00 at the building supply surplus store, slipped right into place!
Just like my kitchen backsplash, I imagined nothing but white subway tile for
my new bathroom! I was extra happy to find this beveled subway tile at Lowe's!
Of course, five minutes before we realized we needed two more boxes to finish
our project, the vendor for this tile put it on stop-sell with Lowe's. It required a
trip to High Point but we finally located a store that hadn't read that memo yet!
Don't act so surprised... You knew there would be cararra in my new bathroom!
After all, this is me and if there's one material I refuse to live
without in my house it's creamy, white carrara marble!
If I could get away with it, there would be carrara in every room!
Huh, Leo?
Leo agrees with me... There can never be enough carrara in my life!
As much as I would have loved to visit with Ann again at Surface Products
where I found the carrara slab for my kitchen island, the clock was ticking!
So I called up Anise at Marble Granite World, which is just around the
corner from us compared to Charlotte. As luck would have it, he had just
the remnant we needed to accomplish what I envisioned for the wall!
Things were humming right along until the day we picked up the marble... We
brought it home, dry-set it on the wall and, guess what? The wall was crooked!
It was at this point our twenty-nine year marriage was tested. He said he would not
tear the tiles off to straighten it and I said I wouldn't live with the top row of tile not
being capped off by the marble where it was left partially exposed on the sink side!
At a stand-off, we agreed to break from the bathroom to take in a hockey game...
Where he agreed the wall was absolutely worth straightening!
When my glass fabricator called to say he couldn't promise the custom tub
and shower screens I designed would arrive on Friday, I started to make
peace with the fact that finishing our new bathroom in three weeks and
before mom and dad arrived wasn't going to happen. But two days later,
amazing-Mark at Clear Light Glass called to say my pieces were back
from tempering and could be installed Friday after all! The glass went in...
Exactly twelve minutes before my parents pulled into our driveway!
We'd done it. The four of us didn't have to share our master bedroom
bath and moreover, my parents could help decorate my new spa bath!
My dad spotted this wall cabinet at Home Goods and we all agreed
this orchid print found at the Red Collection was a must-have too!
I think both are perfect. I also think of my dear
parents and all the fun we had each time I see them!
What else is perfect is this Grant floor storage piece from Pottery Barn
for which I have SpaBoy to thank. He grabbed up two of them during one of
our trips to the Pottery Barn Outlet in Gaffney. So when I asked him if I
could have one, he kindly offered it for just what he paid, which was $80!
I originally planned to hang this mirror over my sink; however, after
trying to hang it and discovering there's an HVAC pipe behind the wall
that cannot be moved, we returned it and moved on to plan B. Plan B
was to cut the original mirror for this bath and bevel it, which cost a
quarter of what the Pottery Barn mirror cost. As a bonus, I love it! I
strongly recommend recycling old mirrors. Old mirrors are heavier
than mirrors made today and I swear they are more reflective too!
I love everything about my new bathroom. I especially love that my
darling husband was once again able to take my ideas and turn them
into something so incredibly well executed and beautiful. I also love
that while all-white, all-things isn't his thing, like it is for me, he is
willing to indulge me all the way. That's huge, considering this bath
is only my bath-time retreat while it functions as his bath full time!
To show my appreciation, I added his initial to the monogram on the
bath mats and towels I ordered from Pottery Barn for our new bath!
Oh! I also let him choose the shower head/tub valve!
So that's it. The last of the old house has disappeared. And, through my
treasure hunting at the HFH Restore and the building supply surplus store
and of course, my husband's free but expert labor, this bathroom comes in
as the least expensive rehab project we've done. The total being $3,200!
I couldn't be happier with it!


  1. So jealous! It is incredible--especially at that price! We have been ripping ours out in stages, but we're not ready to do anything yet except build false walls and move plumbing. (Which is never as much fun as decorating!) I'm going to link to this from my blog, if that's okay.

  2. Janet, as beautiful as your home is visually, I think what takes it over the top is the way you make everyone feel so welcome there, even those of us whom have only visited it on your blog! Thank you for sharing your ideas, good shopping luck, and welcoming all of us into your home!

  3. It looks amazing Janet. What an amazing transformation! :)

  4. I love it Janet! It's the type of bathroom you'll want to indulge in with bath bombs, creams, luxurious soaps and thick, lush towels.

    I'm booking my flight now! ;-)

  5. Stunning! The place I bought last year has 70's wallpaper in almost every room (but not in the living room/dining room thank goodness!). But I love the place and will someday have the walls stripped and painted. There's a HFH ReStore near me - I think I'll mosey on over and see what they've got. You and your husband did a wonderful job!

  6. So beautiful, I can only imagine all the work and worry you and hubby went thru. The yard
    is grand. This should be published in a magazine. I do so remember the old dark brown

    Wishing you (as usual) a wonderful weekend. It has finally quit raining here. I do so wish I had been able to find you at the Steve Martin show. I had a
    little surprise for you-a Mama Dip's cookbook. She has a restaurant in Raleigh (I think). Maybe
    we'll be able to meet up in the future. I love my facebook and blog friend.


  7. Thank you for sharing your lovely home, gardens and renovations! Love seeing the view of your property from the bottom of hill back up to the house. The pool is nestled so nicely into the two have truly created a magical oasis!
    So glad to see the shout out to your local HFH Restore! My son worked at a HFH restore all through college, it's an incredible community building organization!
    You both deserve an Olympic Gold medals for completing the bathroom renovation project in three weeks on $3,200 budget!
    White & Carrara marble? Who would want anything else? Simply elegant!

  8. Your husband loves you to pieces! He took the wall down!! You both did a beautiful job on the remodel, it is stunning.

    I'm wondering what you are going to tackle next now that your beautiful home is completely renovated.

  9. I don't dare even show this gorgeous tub to my husband. Ours is too small and shallow:( But me? I'll take your kitchen:)

  10. I am so happy for you two! Now you can rest, relax, and enjoy the joint efforts of having your beautiful dream home. The end results are absolutely stunning! Now when can we expect to see this worthy home and gardens in a magazine spread? Enjoy the fruits of your labors. Hugs, A.

  11. is absolutely perfect and couldn't reflect your personality better! I'm envious!
    Hugs, Kathy

  12. Looks amazing. Although it's an all-white bathroom, the wall tiles and the accent lights make it look like an interesting mix of textures.

  13. Beautiful transformation! Looking forward to reading more!

  14. You made the house so special from its before beauty. You got a great eye on the design. The kitchen and bathroom are very promising! Good job for your work on this house.

  15. Hi Janet, I agree fully here, you can renovate the property you buy but you can't change the location and Neighbors, so its vital to make the right choice here. I learnt this from experience just like you did. Btw this is a nice write up on Bath remodel.


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