Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Master Bathroom Remodel... Small Bathroom Re-Remodel and Marbel Mosaic Monograms

Hello there... So glad you popped in today because I finally have an
update to share with you about our master bathroom re-remodel!
You may remember what our master bathroom looked like before
our first remodel from these photos and this post I wrote several
years ago after the shower floor was replaced to address
a minor drainage issue I could no longer live with...
When we bought the house and I first laid eyes this custom-built
but dated and useless vanity and storage unit, I nearly lost my mind.
Storage good... Clunky bookcase and low, low vanity, bad... And, do
not even get me started on the wallpaper or size of this bathroom!
Because, for all the outdoor space we lacked at our house in California,
it featured one very sweet master bedroom en suite; complete with a huge
walk-in closet, double sink vanity and separate tub/shower and toilet room!
Therefore, to walk into this... A master bath smaller than my
former closet and nowhere to expand was devastating!
So before he tackled the rest of the house, my husband ripped
my bathroom down to the studs and we started over!
And, for a while it was fine. Especially since taking out the bookcase
meant he could move the toilet closer to the door and expand the
shower. Also, when the floor was replaced to correct that drainage issue,
our contractor capped the step with the carrara marble I love so much!
Replacing the low vanity, (which had no drawers) with a half-pedestal sink
meant my sink could be as high on the wall as I wanted. Tearing out that
clunky orange bookcase gave me more room to move around too. Given
what I originally walked into, I was pretty content with this arrangement...
Until I realized that there was nowhere to put anything! Now, I'm
the first to admit I have a lot of stuff; however, in my defense, there
is a lot a girl needs in the bathroom. Especially when her best friend
works for Aveda and spoils her as much as spa-Boy likes to spoil me!
But after buying my sixth storage cabinet and finding there was no more
floor space on which for it to stand, I realized it was time to stop the insanity!
It was time to admit that the very short people who built this house and that
low vanity and clunky storage bookcase knew exactly what they were doing!
So I needed a new vanity and a new storage cabinet in a big way. But like with
the new flooring and powder room we just finished downstairs, I wanted to take
my time and make sure that I get everything I want this time around. Being born
and raised in Germany, where my father always made sure to keep us out of
military housing, I grew up in some very charming homes with charming old-world
european bathrooms. In fact, in my Oma's bathroom, the toilet tank was mounted
near the ceiling, so to flush it, we had to pull a little wooden handle on a chain! I
have always been drawn to classic bathroom cabinetry and fixtures. Like this!
So I did my research and finally decided on a vanity with clean lines; not fussy or
too busy and reminded me of that old-world, European style I love so much. The
fact that these photos of the vanity I chose also feature a hexagon carrara mosaic
marble floor and carrara marble top didn't hurt either! However, because of the
unique (small) dimensions of my bathroom, I couldn't find a stock vanity that
was both shallow enough as not to encroach on the doorway and long enough
to provide the counter/storage space I need. So, I decided to contact the local
custom-cabinet business to whom these pics belong and ask for an estimate...
Which turned out to be a monumental waste of time and a huge
disappointment. First, the woman that came out to meet me talked
about nothing for over an hour. All attempts to steer her back to the
topic of the vanity and storage cabinet I wanted failed. After she said
she "had what she needed", which I seriously doubted, she promised to
be back in touch with an estimate within a week. After ten days passed,
I called to follow-up and received the above e-mail letting me know that
my vanity and storage cabinet would cost over six thousand dollars! Now,
I understand custom cabinetry comes at a price; but reading her e-mail,
it was all about price. There was nothing to describe what I was buying
at all. There was no attachment with dimensions or a rendering for what
my new cabinetry would look like or what it would be made of. I also did
not know whether her price included the marble top, hardware, nothing...
And, as it turns out, it included nothing. No top, no sink, no hardware and
no paint! Even worse, I learned (after pulling it out of her) that I was also
responsible for paying hundreds of dollars (no specifics given) for delivery
from Pennsylvania back to North Carolina. Wait! What? Why did I go to
all the effort to seek out and support a local business when my project
was going to be farmed out to someone out of state? The final straw came
when she sent renderings that looked absolutely nothing like the photos I
gave her from her own website! I actually asked her, "are you sure your
quote and these drawings are for my project, because this looks nothing
like what we discussed." After, sending  my own sketch and the link to
the vanity on her website, I received a sketch via e-mail that was simply
a copy of what I sent her, with dimensions added. Then, it hit me...
Why not call the amazing carpenter that built the bookcase for our library
and build the cornice box for my Germany map in the living room? I mean, all
I had to do was show him a picture and it was as if he just lifted it up and set it
down in our room! So I called him... But unfortunately, his wife told me that he
was unavailable for a few weeks because he was recovering from knee surgery.
Sadly, a few weeks turned into almost two months after an infection ended up
taking his leg. Still, not wanting to let me down, this wonderfully kind and
wildly talented carpenter came to see me and he brought a friend he said was
just as good at building cabinetry as he was. See my photos on his clipboard?
True to his word, this super-nice man took exactly what he saw in those
photos and sketched out my vanity right there in my bathroom. Then,
he took measurements and provided recommendations to ensure both
pieces do not take over the room and function the way I need and
want them to. Note to Ms. Chatterbox... This is how it is done!
Guess what else he did? He called me back and made an appointment
to present his estimate without my having to follow up with him! An
estimate that spelled out every little detail of my project. Including
the materials he planned to use, measurements and configurations!
Why, yes... My socks were blown off! In fact, when he called to ask if he could
bring over the contract and told me his price was $1,700.00, my response
was, "Great, Chris! How much for the storage cabinet behind the door?" To
which he replied, "No, Janet, that is my price for both pieces you wanted."
So with my vanity and storage cabinet decided, it was time for what Chip
Gaines refers to as his favorite day... DEMO DAY! Now, my husband is not
as happy about this bathroom re-remodel as I am because he has already
remodeled it once! So I have pretty much been in the dog house since this
project launched. There was one moment of levity during the process of
destroying all his hard work though, after he opened up the front of the
knee wall for the shower and found what you see in the photo above!
Why? Because what you see in that wall... All the plumbing supplies
and the tools are all things he spent hours looking for and accused
me of moving during the first remodel. Yes! He closed all that stuff
up inside the wall. To be totally honest, we are still laughing about it!
Remember in my last post when I told you we went to Texas to see Ranger
graduate from the police academy and we ended up going to Waco three times
to visit Magnolia Market? Well, someone got all excited when he thought I was
finally going to use one of the three dozen carpenter's pencils I insisted I needed
from the gift shop. He set two of them on the wall and asked me to mark where I
wanted my new wall to end so he could measure for the new lumber to frame it up...
So I did. I took one of my Magnolia Market carpenter's pencils and laid it on the
spot where I want my new wall to end. When I was asked if I marked the spot, I
said I had; it was where the white pencil was. To which he replied, "Most people
sharpen a pencil to mark a spot, Janet." But these are special pencils... And, no. I
have no plans to ever sharpen any of these sweet pencils; so do not even ask!
The only thing I wanted to save in this bathroom was the piece of
marble that contractor put over the step. Everything else could go!
And, while I was told to prepare for it not to survive being removed,
this gorgeous chunk of carrara marble popped right out in one piece!
Although it has not yet been confirmed, I am hoping a little bit of it can
be repurposed for use as the bottom of the foot niche inside my shower!
Despite not being happy about having to tear out and rebuild this bathroom,
my husband made quick work of the demo. He carried hundreds and hundreds
of pounds of broken tile, tile board, dry wall and concrete down the steps!
He said he never expected to see the back of the tub he installed when he
remodeled the hallway bathroom exactly four years ago... But, there it is!
Along with my written declaration that our new bathtub would
never leak! Seeing RLTW reminded me that Ranger was deployed
(for what would thankfully be the last time) during that project!
By the way... We are firm believers that the longevity of our now 32-year
marriage relates to the fact that we have never shared a bathroom. So,
needless to say, it is taking a lot of this shower get to get me through!
Leo is about as happy about this arrangement as I am!
Co-mingling our towels is not something we are used to either. And,
yes... That is a lot of towels for only two people. But that is because
neither of us has or ever will use a towel more than once before it gets
washed. Oh, and my dad has always said brown towels are for lazy people
that do not know how to do laundry properly - So there has never been
anything but white towels in our house. That also applies to sheets!
The prince I married thought this was funny...
As for the materials for my new bathroom... Like I said before in my post about
the downstairs powder room we recently remodeled, I have reached the point
in my life where I no longer have to settle. It is probably because I have reached
that point in life where it is more than half over as well... So, for these reasons
and because I have been forced to promise that I will never ask my husband to
remodel my kitchen or any of the bathrooms ever again, I decided to use only
the fixtures, finishes and hardware I have always wanted but was either too
afraid to ask for or could not afford. That does not mean I went wild though...
But I did go visit everything on my wish-list for inspiration! You see, this
is the shower valve of my dreams... It is made in Great Britain and only
costs $7,300.00 at my local Ferguson Plumbing and Lighting Showroom!
It reminds me of the classic, traditional bathrooms of Europe... But
even if our home warranted such a fixture and I had an extra $8k
to blow, I probably would not buy it. Not when I know there
are less expensive options available that are just as pretty
and just as well made! So I did more research and I found...
This one is by Hudson Reedmakers of luxury bathroom fixtures
at prices nearly everyone can afford. They are also in Great Britain and
this model I purchased is sold through Houzz.com for less than $600
Spending ten times less on my shower valve means I can spend
more on other things I need to complete my dream en suite...
The word dream, being relative to the size of my bathroom course!
The same cost-saving method applied to my hardware choices too;
because after shopping the looks at Restorations Hardware, I was able
to find similar ones for less at Pottery Barn. And, you know how much I
love Pottery Barn! In fact, we made a run to the Outlet for things as well!
It was as if they knew I was coming, because this Mercer Train Rack
towel holder I want installed inside my shower was laying on a table right
by the entrance! In their catalog, the Mercer Train Rack retails for $199;
however, at the Pottery Barn Outlet in Gaffney,  I paid just $54.00!
On the way home from Gaffney we stopped by Frugal MacDoogal, the
Carolina's largest wine and beverage warehouse so I could reward my
handyman for all his efforts to demo my master bedroom bathroom!
I chose this Victorian-style faucet to compliment the classic look of
the amazing carrara vanity top I see in my dreams about my new bathroom!
Last week I bumped into these British made apothecary-style jars for just
$5.00 each at my favorite consignment shop. I cannot wait to fill them with
cotton balls, Q-tips or soap and display them on my new storage cabinet!
Speaking of my new vanity and storage cabinet...
They are exactly like the pictures and hand-crafted of solid maple!
Originally, I planned to ask my sweetie to just slap a coat of white
paint on them for me. However, after I saw these beauties and ran my
fingers all over this strong, smooth maple, I knew it deserved better!
So did my carpenter, because he had a sample door front ready to show
me. He said he has a guy that does all the cabinetry he builds for a custom
homebuilder. He said that for $800, he would have my vanity and storage
cabinet painted and finished to look like the high-end furniture they are!
Sold! The only disagreement we had was the color. You see, there is no
negotiating when it comes to the material for my vanity top. Unlike the
compromise I made with the Corian Raincloud we had installed in
the kitchen, my custom vanity top will be white carrara marble. So while
Dove White by Benjamin Moore may very well be the most common paint
color used to finish kitchen/bathroom cabinets, I know the subtle off-white
and cream tones in Dove White make carrara marble look more gray and
dingy than it really is. Therefore, in order to make the white in carrara pop
and to pull the blue tones out of the veining in this kind of marble, people
that really love it like I do know that only a crisp, clean white paint on the
new vanity will do. A white paint like Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace!
See what I mean? It is the perfect white for my vanity. Even Chris agrees
I made the better choice. And, I agreed that the finish is just as Chris said
it would be... Beautiful! When he opened the shop door and I saw my new
vanity, I almost cried. It is just as I imagined and just as I showed him
in those photographs I provided the day he came out to measure my
bathroom. The modifications I requested include an extra-deep bottom
drawer so cans of hairspray and large bottles of shampoo can be stored
standing up. I also added a shallow fourth drawer to the top of the stack
for my cosmetics tray and I placed the sink off-center, on the right. It is
also a tall vanity that will stand nearly 40" after the top is installed. The fun
part of this visit with my vanity was finding out that my first choice, out of
the eight different styles of hardware I brought with me, was the best one!
We didn't even unwrapped any of the other hardware!
The custom storage cabinet I designed was inspired by the one
original to the house that we ripped out. The only adjustments I
made was to make it less wide so I can keep the roomier shower
and I asked for an added detail on the front of the shelves, to help
it look less like a bookcase. I love it and cannot wait to fill it up!
While my husband installed a new exhaust fan and finished up
some drywall repairs, I went to Floor and Décor to pick out tile!
This may not have been such a difficult choice, had we not used that
black and white porcelain hex tile for the powder room! You see, that
tile is so much more comfortable to walk on than the carrara mosaic
we used in the hall bathroom, that I sometimes I remove my socks
just to feel it under my toes! So, that is exactly what I did before I
made my final decision at Floor and Décor. I walked on the 2" hex
carrara mosaic and the 1" hex carrara mosaic to compare them to the
feel of the porcelain hex I love. However, while there is no denying
that the porcelain hex, with its gently rounded pillow edges is much
more comfortable, my heart is set on the Carrara; specifically the 1"
hexagon mosaic shown in the photograph of the vanity I selected!
Yes, it is true, sweet Leo... Mom chose style over comfort. Again!
After placing the order for my marble and the subway tile for the shower and
bathroom walls, I had an appointment with a marble wholesaler that was
set up by the fabricator for my vanity top. But just like the first custom
cabinetry person I called, this lady wasted my time too. When I first called,
she assured me she had a remnant that would be perfect for my vanity. She
said they work with white carrara all the time and knew she had something I
would love. However, when I showed up, she went into a long explanation
about how "no one" is using carrara any more and that white quartz is now
all the rage. "Because it doesn't stain, etch and blah, blah, blah, like carrara
tends to do." Okay... I have been down this road so many damn times. I
do not care if carrara is fussy and difficult to live with. Hello? So am I!
As I said in this post after my carrara marble island top was delivered...
I have always wanted carrara marble like my Oma had... Her

kitchen was always the warmest room in the house, with its coal

stove and carrara marble counter tops; pitted, stained and worn

smooth from decades of working day and night to feed her six,

fatherless children at a time when she literally had to make a lot
out of a whole lot of the nothing she had as a war widow. I may or
may not be careful with my new marble vanity top; however, if it
does end up pitted, etched and worn like my Oma's, it will mean I
had the privilege of living with something that is truly beautiful,
timeless and alive. So on we go in search of the carrara meant for me!

And, not another peep about Quartz from anyone! Off I went... However,
no matter how far up the price ladder we climbed or how many slabs they
pulled for me, none of this marble was good enough for my new vanity...
Frankly, on a quote of $1,100 for a 46" X 22" vanity top, I was expecting
more. I was pretty shocked by how low-quality their carrara was...
As you can see above, most of the slabs I was shown were either
cracked, had putty filler in them to mask damage or both!
I really gave this the old college try; but again, I am not willing
to compromise or settle. And, the more slabs they moved the less
generous I was feeling towards the woman at Amanzi Marble and
Granite, (which according to her, should be renamed, Amanzi Quartz
and more Quartz because "no one uses carrara anymore") especially
since for as concerned as she was about how "fussy" cararra can be,
she was not nearly fussy enough about what she sends her clients to see!
Below is the slab I was told she selected especially for me. Clearly, it is not a
whole slab. It is also terribly gray and with that horizontal vein running almost
across the whole piece, even these guys said it would be impossible for my
vanity not to look like it was about to break in half. No... Check this off this list!
Then it hit me! Why not go to Emerald Pearl where the contractor that
fixed the shower floor got that chunk of Carrara to cap the step? So I did,
and I am so very happy I did! The owner of Emerald Pearl, Helio took me
straight to the back and introduced me to the most beautiful slab of white
carrara marble I have ever seen. My new vanity deserves this marble!
After he took my bathroom back down to the studs, my husband
announced that he would rather not tile or lay the marble floor...
He said that since I am on a mission to build my dream bathroom and
have spent so much money to get exactly what I want (which, by the way,
is not as much as thinks, since Floor and Décor agreed to price-match
the marble) that he wants a professional to do a professional job for me!
So I did! Unfortunately, this guy didn't work out
but we will talk more about that when this is over!
While sub-standard work was going on, I was busy unpacking a few
more of the goodies I ordered... Like this rotating soap from France!
It is made of donkey milk and smells amazing. The holder mounts to
the wall so the soap never has to sit in a wet soap dish. I use shower
gel but always finish by washing my hands and face with a mild soap
to give them that squeaky-clean feeling after I condition my hair!
Being able to wash my hands quickly without leaving soap standing
in a soap dish and having it air dry makes this the perfect solution! The
other goodie that came is this beautiful Kensington Mirror from Pottery
Barn. It's beveled and it mounts on side brackets that allow it to be tilted
I have to confess that as much as I love Pottery Barn, this mirror was not
my first choice. I originally picked out a backlit mirror I ordered from a
third party via Amazon. Huge mistake! Although the mirror arrived with a
clear defect in that it was missing a full line of etching around the on/off
button on the front and, it was not at all described since it was not able to
be hard-wired and came with a huge plug on the back so it could not be
mounted flush against the wall... The seller refused to offer a pre-paid
return. Even after I put in a claim with Amazon and appealed their
decision to take the side of their vendor and two of their phone reps
agreed the mirror was defective and not as described after reviewing
the photos I sent them. Fortunately, the seller agreed to take the mirror
back and refund the purchase - But I had pay and take time off to ship it!
But everything happens for a a good reason and the good reason that
crappy backlit mirror did not work is because it was too modern for
the traditional, european bathroom I want and it did not match the
style of the faucet and hardware I picked out. Finally, it did not have
a beveled edge, which I love because of the way it catches the light!
This was our progress last week... This guy finished the pre-slope
on the shower floor, installed the liner and tested it for leaks...
It did not leak! But he also didn't install the drain at the correct height
(despite going over the requirement at length) and, he allowed concrete to get
into the rain and left it there... So now we have another issue to address!
Nevertheless, we are moving forward without him...
By the way, I thought it would be tough to find a shower grab bar
to match the exposed shower valve I picked out and one that does
not throw off that assisted living vibe but I was wrong! This one I
found at Signature Hardware knocked it out of the park!
If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were made to go together!
When I got home Friday afternoon I found that the walls were up
up and was told we were ready for tile. Had I checked the drain, I
may not have paid the guy. But I did. In the end, he came down
with a kidney stone and hasn't been able to work since. Karma?
Fortunately, there is an amazing craftsman recommended by my
marble guy who is taking over this week so things are back on track! 
I am so excited to see the tile go up on these walls!
And the carrara marble mosaic go down on the floor!
Speaking of which...
I picked up all the tile and marble at Floor and Décor the other day...
So over the weekend, I got busy on
a little project I have in mind for the floor!
My monogram!
I created the template by blocking out the tiles I need to remove on
a wrapped piece of marble with a marker. Then, I cut the plastic
away from the square and flipped it over, pressing it onto the
back mesh side of the square that would be monogrammed...
Like this...
After the ink transferred onto the mesh backing, I knew
exactly which pieces of marble to remove. Like this...
Sadly, no matter how much I played with it, the B
still looked too much like the number eight...
Since my monogram does not include the number eight and I know
that after it gets cemented to the floor would be the wrong time
to admit that I hate it, I decided to experiment with a plan B...
To create a heart! But while a heart would solve my B-8 (Bingo!)
problem, it feels too juvenile for the traditional bathroom I want.
So I moved on to my Plan C... As in my maiden name. As in
the monogram I was born with. The monogram my parents put
on the first Terry wrap-around they gave me for Christmas in 1978...
It's perfect!
And, as long as I include my married name in all my other
monogrammed stuff, my husband says he doesn't mind at all!
After showing my mom the new monogrammed tissue box cover
and hearing how much she loved it, I had to order one for her too!
Tiling should be complete by the end of next week...
So stay tuned!


  1. Looks good. I can't wait to see the finished product!

  2. Oh my goodness!! This is such a lovely post!! It is great to hear about all your decorating adventures and see you blogging about it!! Love to hear about all these details. I hope the kidney stone passes quickly the natural way as I hear surgery is no picnic either. Hugs to you! Andrea


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