Tuesday, August 15, 2017

That's a Wrap! Master Bathroom Remodel is Complete...

After setting the last tile over the weekend, things to
complete our bathroom remodel moved along pretty quickly!
The Victorian Faucet I selected was installed... I say, Marry a man
that knows how to install a faucet and you will be happy always!
After the faucet went in, it was time to hang the mirror. I cannot lie,
it was a bit heartbreaking to watch him drill into this beautiful tile!
Nevertheless, sacrifices have to be made
and this one was well worth making!
I will always love this custom vanity and storage cabinet!
Silly me, I spent so much time searching for the right waste can to
match the aesthetic of my new bathroom when all I had to do was to
go grab it from the closet! It's the French enamelware compost pail
offered through Martha Stewart's Martha by Mail catalog... This was
the last MBM purchase I made before it closed and it's such a treasure!
While I piddled and decorated my vanity, someone was busy in the shower!
Busy grouting the tile around my shower niches...
And, installing the shower valve I selected! While he is not a plumber by
trade, it's more of a honey-please-do-this-for-me hobby for him, my sweet
husband was able to install this system by Hudson Reed in no time at all!
Of course, with all this polished chrome exposed, I didn't want to risk
it being scratched/dinged by tools... So I ran into the shower to cover it in
painter's tape! After a few minutes, it was up and running. And, ding-free!
I'm calling it the Eclipse or Halo shower because of the reflection on the
ceiling cast by the new light fixture. While it's not bothersome on the ceiling,
the shadow cast over the shower does make it a little darker than I'd like...
Nevertheless, this is one of those things you can't always anticipate
during the process. After all, you have to have a ceiling to install the
light fixture and the light fixture has to go in before you can tile and
you can't install this shower head until the shower is tiled. Perhaps I
should have realized this type of system would extend further over
the ceiling than shower heads mounted to the wall... But, I didn't!Someone asked me this morning if I would go through this process again...
And, I said that I would!
Because despite numerous unnecessary disappointments, everything I
planned for this project came out exactly and I imagine and hoped!
What I absolutely would not do again is hire contractors...  This of
course, does not include my amazing carpenter or marble fabricator!
While I understand that most people couldn't remodel a bathroom the way
my husband remodeled mine, I believe the frustration, time and money saved
by figuring it out yourself so that you can, is an investment worth making!
A few lessons learned along the way...

Use caution and do your research before ordering from Amazon
When making purchases from Amazon, it's important to know who you're buying from and their specific return policies. I purchased this mirror assuming that as a Prime member, Amazon would stand behind me but what I found was just the opposite. When the mirror arrived we immediately noticed a defect on the front and, that it wasn't able to be hard-wired into the electricity already on the wall where the previous light fixture was wired. Instead, the mirror had to be mounted near an outlet so it could be plugged in! Now, who wants a big white cord hanging off their mirror and lose an outlet near the sink?


Nevertheless, this is not at all how the mirror is described or appears in the seller's photos on the Amazon website. Nevertheless, when I attempted to return it, Amazon told me since it was not fulfilled by them, I had to work directly with the seller. Long, difficult, frustrating story short, the seller completely glossed over the photos I sent of the defect and instead focused on the problem with wiring, saying I "should have known better what I was buying." The fact that I was communicating with someone in China that didn't write English very well and was in another time zone didn't help. It wasn't until I insisted Amazon get involved that the seller agreed to allow me to return the mirror - And, under Amazon's return policy, it should have been a pre-paid return with pick-up due to the defect in the glass. However, since I had to deal with the seller, they had the option (per Amazon) NOT to pay for the return at all. I even appealed Amazon's decision to side with their seller twice and lost. In the end, I was responsible for shipping it back at my expense. Fortunately, and again, only with help from Amazon, I was able to get the seller to provide a US address for the return. Otherwise, it would have cost $310 to return this $200 mirror to China! However, with the US address I paid $20.00, which the seller agreed to refund - Which they never have. Bottom line, I feel lucky to have gotten out of this bad deal losing only $20


A similarly disappointing issue occurred with Houzz.com for the shower valve system we purchased. When it arrived, the box was open and upon comparing what remained inside the box to a parts list, we found that several of the components were missing. While Hudson Reed did send a replacement, it delayed us from install by roughly three weeks. By the time we got to installation, the same shower system went on sale at the Hudson Reed website; from the $599.00 we paid to just $419.00. Although I called Houzz.com to request the price adjustment, they told me Houzz.com is merely a "store front" for retailers who are responsible for selling/shipping their own products to people that visit Houzz.com. I was instructed by Houzz to call Hudson Reed directly, where a stern man with a British accent told me, "The price is the price on the day you buy it, period." And, since we are now outside the 30-day return policy set by Houzz (due to the delay in getting our system) we couldn't return it and buy it at the lower price from Hudson Reed directly. So again, it pays to know whom you're buying from and all return and pricing policies associated with your purchase. UPDATE: After sending an e-mail to Linda at Houzz.com asking that they inquire with Hudson Reed about this on my behalf, I am delighted to report that they have reversed their decision and are issuing the credit.
Don't be afraid to ask retailers to match a competitor's price
I found the polished carrara marble mosaic flooring we used for this remodel at Floor and Décor for $13.99 per sheet; however, I also found it here for $9.99 per sheet. After verifying with this on-line marble source that it was the same material, I requested a price match at Floor and Décor, which they ultimately honored. I say ultimately because I was first told by two different associates that Floor and Décor does not price match; however, after running it by the flooring manager who took my order, I learned they DO price match.

You already know from this post never to hire any contractor without a signed contract that: 1) spells out the scope of work to be done 2) who will pay for materials 3) includes a timeline and completion date


The one aspect of this project I don't have to warn you about is buying from Pottery Barn! Everything they sell is high quality and in all my years of being their customer, I have never encountered an issue with returns or replacements. Even if you change your mind about an on-line purchase, Pottery Barn will pay to have your items picked up and cheerfully refund your money. Their customer service is truly second to none.


If you're just tuning in and wish to see this project as it progressed, you may visit these past posts:

#diy #bathroom #remodel #smallbathroomdesignideas #classicinteriors #interiordecorating #subwaytile #carrara #marble #customvanity #bathroomstorage #hudsonreed #houzz #potterybarn #overstock #pricematch

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Master Bathroom Remodel - The Last Tile is Set!

Well, hello!
Happy Friday, kittens... I hope you had an amazing week!
I bet you're wondering how the
master bathroom remodel is going. Well...
In my last post here, I shared with you the process of having the
Carrara marble installed for the shower wall and my custom vanity...
It was a big deal; because until the marble was set, we were at a stand-still
where the tile was concerned. I was very excited to come home from work
yesterday to see how well the tile was set around the vanity and shower wall!
Clearly, my sweetie brought his A-game! I mean, just look at how
beautifully he closed the tile around the marble on my vanity top
and the shower wall. No paid contractor could have done as well!
I am so eager to get back into my bathroom. Especially to have my toilet
set back into its little spot. Now that the wall is tiled, I'm one step closer!
I took the day off today to offer my input for tiling the front and
back of the shower wall and around the niches inside the shower...
But I really should have known better, because
he really does have this project well under control!
I'm really glad I didn't listen to that first contractor I hired that told me
no one is using cove base (baseboard) tiles anymore with tiled walls...
Although I know many take subway tile straight to the floor, I think the
cove tile really helps anchor the wall to the floor for a more finished look!
I also think the small transition (swoop) that's along the bottom
of cove base tiles will make it easier to keep the floor clean!
I was so excited to see this wall finished and how well my darling husband
cut the tile to fit around the marble, I was ready to jump into the shower!
But... There was (still is) plenty of work left to do before that can happen!
We both anticipated the niches being a challenge to tile because of the
crappy way the wall was built and the niches were framed by that first
contractor I hired to set the shower floor. Although my husband planned
to do it, the contractor said there wasn't enough cheese (money) in it to
make laying just the shower floor worth his time. So he offered to frame
the wall, including the niches I had sketched out and hang the tile board
needed throughout the shower. After he finished and admitted that the
wall didn't quite come out right is when he offered to do the whole job
for a few thousand dollars more. Feeling I had no choice, I agreed to his
terms; however, he must have come up with another (better paying) gig
because he dragged me around for three+ weeks saying he was too sick
to work and then, he quit altogether. Now, I don't want to think that he
intentionally messed up the wall to make it so that I had no choice but
to hire him to fix it during the process of tiling... But that sure is how it
seems. Nevertheless and despite the shoddy workmanship on this wall...
The amazing tile guy I just happen to be married to, got to work!
And, although not much about these niches was square, plumb
or straight, he made the cuts and adjustments necessary...
To get the job done!
I'm so happy I planned for this foot niche! And, while the contractor
that framed this wall and these niches totally made this one too tall...
It provided the perfect spot to leave this little bonus for my tile guy to find!
All the frustrations of this project aside...
We are both quite pleased by the way it turned out!
Everything I planned for this bathroom remodel turned out better than
I imagined! I am in love with the custom furniture, the monogram I put
into the Carrara marble mosaic on the floor and all the fixtures too!
However... Although the last piece of tile has been set, we're still not done!
The tile still needs to be grouted and then... There's all this stuff to install!
If I'm being perfectly honest, I really don't want him drilling into my
beautiful new subway tile to hang any of it! But, I also know that
without a showerhead, my new shower won't be much use to me!
Over at the vanity, there's still the faucet and drain to connect into
the plumbing under the sink. And then, there's the organizing!
When I designed this vanity, I added this shallow drawer to the top
of my drawer stack to hold all my dailies... I wanted everything I
need to get ready in the morning; my hairbrushes, facial cleaners,
lotions, make-up and perfume to be in one spot and easy to locate!
And, since my new vanity stands nearly 40" tall, I could do a 4th drawer!
My carpenter didn't quite understand it... But I did! On Monday
my sweetie will grout and I will begin clearing out drawers in our
bedroom and closet to relocate everything I didn't have space for in
the bathroom into my new custom vanity and storage cabinets. Since
I'm out of shelf liner and in need of more organizers, I'll get those too!

Next time we chat, I should be able to show you some of the chrome
pieces on the walls. I'm so excited to see the mirror go up and
to finally get into my new bathroom. I hope you'll stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Master Bathroom Remodel - Custom Vanity and Shower Carrara Marble Installation!

Today was a very big day in bathroom remodeling land!
Yesterday, Emerald Pearl called to ask if they could deliver
the new carrara marble for the shower wall and my vanity a
day earlier than scheduled... Honestly, it's been so long since
any contractor has been nice to me, I barely knew how to act!
Nevertheless, I agreed to the early delivery immediately!
Despite the short notice, my clean up crew had the bathroom ready!
I didn't think I could love this furniture any more than I do...
But now that the vanity is topped with this gorgeous carrara, I do!
After a quick look to see how much space there was to
work under the vanity for the installation of the faucet, the
guys said my plumber may not be too happy with me since
after the sink was mounted, there wasn't going to be a lot of
room left to work in that space. So, since my plumber just
happened to be home, I called him up into our bedroom to
take a look! Good thing I did because the decision was made to
install the faucet before the sink and before the vanity was set!
Future crisis averted! One aspect of fabrication I hadn't considered was
how I'd like the faucet set. Normally 3-piece faucets are set straight across
the top of rectangular and oval sinks. However, since I wanted a round sink,
it looks better to set the handles a bit forward, to let them follow the arch
of the sink. Fortunately, the guys at Emerald Pearl thought about this
detail and left drilling the holes for the faucet here to allow me the option!
It's all in the details, my friends...
As soon as I posted the first photos of my faucet, friends began
asking for information about it; so I'll tell you it's from Overstock! I
shopped for this faucet style for a long while, initially falling in love
with this one from Pottery Barn. However, I really didn't care for
the straight edges on the cross handles so I kept right on shopping...
Then one day... During a Google search for
Victorian Style Faucet, this one popped up!
I really like the more rounded handle base and the fact that there are so
many different handle options to choose from. Since it's manufactured by
Kingston Brass I know the quality is the same (or better) as the faucet
offered by Pottery Barn. However, instead of $600 at Pottery Barn, this
faucet lists for just $154 at Overstock. Using a 15% off coupon they sent
two minutes after I placed the order, (I called to ask that the discount
be applied) I paid just a little over $130.00 and shipping was free too!
I think it's the perfect faucet choice for my new vanity!
After the vanity was set, all attention turned to the shower...
Where pieces of carrara, cut from the same slab as my vanity, were
installed to cap off the top and side of my shower wall and the step!
First the step...
Then the open side of the shower wall...
And, finally... The top of the shower wall!
I know this will sound super-odd... However, while the vanity is gorgeous and I
am in love with my little round sink, it's this piece of carrara on top of the wall
that absolutely takes my breath away! You see, what sets Emerald Pearl apart
from all the other marble and granite fabricators in my area (besides price!)
is their attention to detail. Every edge is hand polished, which is important,
especially when three out of four sides of your marble is exposed like this is!
Not to mention how it will feel in the shower, where I will be touching
these niches and step with my bare feet and hands. Since these shower
pieces and my vanity were all hand polished, there are no visible machine
marks. And, to the hand, this marble feels like silk. Forget the doghouse!
Next time I get in trouble, I'm heading for the bathroom... Because next to
floating around in the pool, this is the most comfortable spot in the house!
As smoothly as this install went, it was not without its challenges...
Remember when I told you how the first contractor admitted that
this wall he built is out of plumb but how he swore he would fix it
when he tiled it? Well, as you already know, he quit; so that wall is
still not square... Which is a major problem when you're working
with contractors that actually know how to cut things straight!
Fortunately, the average tenure for the craftsmen working over
at Emerald Pearl is eight years; and, one of the guys sent to install
my marble has been doing this for nearly twenty... So between their
willingness to make multiple trips up and down the steps carrying
all this heavy marble to make adjustments using the equipment they
brought along and what seemed to be an inherent unwillingness to
give up until the job was perfect, that crappy wall is no longer crappy!
Just as the marble guys were leaving; and as if on queue, the UPS truck
pulled into the driveway with the second light fixture I ordered from
Pottery Barn. Yes, I did already buy a light fixture for over the mirror...
But the more and more I looked at the sconce we just installed, the more
I doubted that light fixture I picked out at Lowe's. Besides, you know how
much I love my Pottery Barn and how much I love things that match!
Besides, the other light fixture I picked out was so common and
boring. Just the same four little bells of light suspended from a rod...
Additionally, when your vanity stands 40 inches tall, it tends to take up
much of the wall space between the bottom of the light fixture and top of
the vanity. I really didn't want the light fixture to overlap the top of the
new mirror. Especially when I finally got the mirror I really wanted!
It was a really good thing I figured this out today because when I
pulled the receipt for the other light fixture, I found that today was
the LAST day to return it for a refund! Of course, after watching my
marble being installed all afternoon, I didn't feel like going out to
return it myself... So I sweet-talked someone else into doing it for
me. He even came back with the correct bulbs for my new fixture!
Although there's still a lot to do before we are
able to call this little adventure done...
The progress made today is very, very much appreciated!