Sunday, April 29, 2012

maybe don't do it yourself (part II).

Ah, oui, part deux of the downstairs bathroom debacle saga, in which I officially proclaim IT IS DONE (except for one tiiiiny thing that can't be done until later).

When I last left you, dear readers, the bathroom was looking like this:

Three things here just weren't cutting it for me: the light fixture, the blinds, and the medicine cabinet. All were fine in theory...but they didn't match the updated decor, you know? I'm happy to say, though, that these three projects ended up being relatively easy - even though two had unforeseen complications, and the last one I took on - the medicine cabinet - ended up being the reason that the bathroom didn't get finished until this weekend.

I started with the light fixture. I bought a new one (oil-rubbed bronze, woo!) and thought, I can do this BY MYSELF like a big girl. The maybe-not-so-bright (bright...ha, light pun) idea was doing it while I was home alone. I did warn my co-workers before I left for my lunch break that I'd be tackling electrical work, so if I didn't return in an hour, call 911. So, you know, precautions were taken. And, probably way more important than alerting my co-workers, I remembered to turn off the electricity.

Removing the old fixture was a piece of cake. I even paid attention to the wires to inform my re-wiring process, which ended up being crucial. Way to go, Cath.

I patched and painted the wall where the fixture had been, since the new fixture has a smaller base...

...and set out to re-wire the new fixture, even though I'm afraid of touching wires when I'm home alone.


And here, kids, is where I learned all about "ground wires" and their function. After quickly realizing that there were two wires coming out of the wall and three places to re-attach wires to the fixture, I turned to my favorite DIY teacher, YouTube. That's where I learned that the copper wire grounds the fixture, which means my house won't burn down and die if the fixture short-circuits (...um...that's roughly what it means...how about don't quote me on that). This all happened two months ago, so I can't really remember the deets, but I'm pretty sure the new fixture came with a copper wire attached, and I found a way to hook it all up correctly. Unless that means my house is in imminent fire danger. In that case, I did something else way more electrically gooder. In any case, I ended up with this:

I also ended up with this, because like I mentioned before, karma is feisty and screwdrivers are wily.

The two scratches on the drain are from J.J.
The two chunks missing from the porcelain are from karma.

I mostly fixed the chunk debacle with white waterproof caulk, and everything was looking pretty good. Pretty done. But then...I started looking at pictures. Aaand after perusing all these pictures, I decided I hated the blinds.

I don't really know why. It's just that I tend to be a minimalist, and the blinds aren't serving any function thanks to the frosted lower window, and we have never, ever lowered them in the 2.5 years we've lived here, except to take that picture. So why keep them? Presto-chango - they're gone now. It took all of 10 minutes - I lifted the blinds off their brackets, unscrewed the brackets from the wall, patched, sanded, painted, and was done. Woo. Easiest project yet, but no one even knew they were there (including J.J.), so it's also the least noticeable.

On to the medicine cabinet. It was a little crooked, but it was the silver frame that was really bugging me. Yeah, that's just how picky I got in this tiny, tiny room. But really, it wasn't jiving with everything else.

My first plan was to DIY a frame (side note: it is unacceptable to use "DIY" as a verb, and I apologize). I thought I could just glue white moulding to the existing mirror, which would simultaneously tie it in with everything else and give it the illusion of being level, because I would trick the eye by making the frame level. I bought moulding for, like, three bucks, measured stuff out, cut a few pieces, and promptly made a cut at the wrong angle, which left me with not enough moulding to finish the project. I bought more moulding, but somehow? The materials have been sitting in the corner of the tiny bathroom, untouched, FOR THE LAST TWO MONTHS.

I kind of got sidetracked by the kitchen stuff. In the end, though, it was the kitchen that brought me back to the bathroom (don't read into that sentence too much). See, I've been on vacation this week. I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with my entire family of origin (minus one), and, since I returned on Monday, I've been loathe to do anything kitchen-related, despite grand plans to "pretty much finish the whole thing this week!" What was I saying in the last post about estimated time having an inverse relationship to actual time? Yeah. Regardless, I spent Wednesday working on the kitchen and six hours on Thursday shopping for the kitchen (which was harder than it sounds), and by Friday, I was burned out on the stupid kitchen. If I were tending to my mental health, I would have allowed myself the rest of my vacation for relaxing. But...I'm not being a good caretaker, and the cracks are showing, and I'm forging ahead nonetheless.

Not with the kitchen, mind you. Nope - I've taken procrastination to a whole new sad level, wherein instead of working on the kitchen, I returned to the bathroom to finish off the medicine cabinet. After all the mind-numbing detail work I've been doing in the kitchen, I just couldn't stomach doing the frame for the cabinet. I know it sounds dumb, and maybe wasteful, but when I thought about purchasing a new cabinet rather than spending hours measuring and cutting and gluing and waiting...only to have a semi-okay final result? No way. Couldn't do it. So I bought a new one. Judge not, lest ye end up in a similar bathroom debacle.

Of course, this didn't necessarily make things easier or take less time. I'd made a decision, though, and it was less mental work to follow through on it than to back out. Heehee. I don't pretend to understand, don't worry. 

First, I had to cut out the glued, screwed, and caulked old medicine cabinet.

I cringed as I pried the cabinet out of the wall, for two reasons. First, as you can see in the picture above, the paint and drywall around the cabinet tore and came up in chunks, which equals more spackling, sanding, and painting...which I am so. sick. of. Second, this is a recessed medicine cabinet. As in, there's a hole in the wall behind it. Would squirrels jump out at me? Would I discover a spider colony worse than the one in the kitchen? Would I finally discover where all those razors go when people shove them in the little hole in the back of the cabinet?

Luckily, the answer to all three of those questions was no. BUT. I was home alone, and I may or may not have squealed out loud in utter terror as I was pulling the cabinet out of the wall. ANYTHING COULD HAVE HAPPENED. Anything. But then, by the grace of the DIY gods, the cabinet was out, and the resulting hole was relatively clean and spider-free.

In that picture, as you can see, I had already spackled the perimeter. I ended up having to spackle, dry, and sand twice to really fill in the gaps, but it paid off - it's pretty smooth. I painted and left it to dry overnight. No way in hell was I going to let the wall-squirrels and ghosts invade my bed and my ears during the night, though, so I took precautionary measures.

Don't laugh. It worked. My sleep was squirrel- and ghost-free. And the next day, I installed the new medicine cabinet (set it in the hole, messed with it until it was level, screwed it into the wood frame) and was done.


Done with a room!

(Except for the floor. But that's happening when we do the kitchen floor.)

Summer 2009

April 2012

Since we moved in, we have:

  • replaced the window (including a frosted lower pane)
  • painted the walls yellow and the trim white
  • removed all the wooden fixtures and replaced with bronze ones
  • hung art on two walls
  • replaced the toilet and sink (added a cabinet)
  • replaced the light fixture
  • removed the blinds
  • replaced the medicine cabinet
We've spent about $400 in this tiny room, not including the paint (which was part of the whole first floor being painted), the window (which was done when we got all the windows replaced), and the art (the metal circles were a gift; we had the frames - from Target - already). Not bad for a complete overhaul, especially since we replaced a water-guzzling toilet with a low-flow one. Here's the breakdown:
  • Trash can/towel hook/toilet paper holder: ~$20
  • Toilet: $200
  • Vanity: $42
  • Faucet: $47 (+ ~$20 for random parts)
  • Light fixture: $45
  • Medicine cabinet: $25
  • TOTAL: $399

Some more "after" pics:

I'm calling it done, officially.

(Until I magically come into a huge amount of magical money that allows me to magically build an addition over the garage and off the back of the house...in which case, this bathroom will be relocated. <Evil laugh>)


  1. Looks great - very fresh and minimalist and tidy! Nicely done :)

  2. Yay! Thanks! Poor medicine cabinet is being overshadowed by all the kitchen updates...it's not getting the attention it deserves. I have to remember to appreciate it every time I walk into that bathroom. :)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...