Bathroom Rehab

When you live in a city apartment and you have only one bathroom, taking on a renovation of that space can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Add to that a pre-war building (those were made out of concrete and require a special handyman to hang a picture). The picture, in case you are not clear, is that nothing in these types of buildings will be ripped out easily and replaced. Not without a wrecking crew, and if you are in fact planning on continuing to live there, well, you have a problem.

Me, I love a bathroom or I hate it. I want it to be a quiet sanctuary of sorts. I want to go in, close the door, block out the world, maybe turn on some nice music, having a steaming hot shower, dry off with a fluffy towel, and have the ability to turn around without hitting a towel rack, the back of the toilet or the door – you out there reading this, living in tiny places – you know what I am talking about.

While I cannot make my sister Mary Beth’s bathroom any bigger – we can make it feel like a tiny spa, and do it all without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Now some of you might balk at the thought of reglazing – this inexpensive fix will in fact transform your space. No painstaking effort to pry up the existing tile, I don’t even know how they’d get that tub out of the apartment without taking out the door, popping a window out, and have a crane take it down. If you were being bombed, this tub would be the only thing left standing, and you could happily say it served one good purpose. Reglazed – it will serve two.

Patch the tile, glaze the tub and then the tiles, add a new sink, toilet, vanity, and light fixture, and voila – you’ve performed a miracle – and it only cost you about $2500. It’s true. Take that. The last full bathroom renovation I did cost me $25,000. It was only 37sf That’s $675.67 a foot. You know what it feels like to stub your toe – that’s a huge toe stubbing cost.

Stay tuned for the after pictures. It’ll all take place over the course of a single long weekend away.

So many great options from Lumens.com Left: Saber $180. Top Right: Winton Bath Bar $219. Bottom Right: Rondelle Bath Bar $314.

Re-Making of the Manse

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The Manse . circa 1789

Finding new life after more than two hundred years shows fortitude and resilience.  Jo-Jo’s late 18th century home sat directly on the frozen earth, no modern barriers of protection, its only insulation the newspaper and sail cloth that lined the walls underneath the wall paper.  Who knew wallpaper wasn’t all form, it was a big part function.  I stand educated.  Perhaps all these less technical methods allowed the house to breath.  One’s survival depends on it, after all.  I thought the old girl would crumble when she was jacked up, when that carefully preserved earth was shoveled from under her, when her old bones, which were crooked with age, were laid gently down on her new foundation, miraculously, they did not break.

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The new addition.

She rested, and settled, and straightened herself out.  When they say “built to last”  this is what they mean.  Like a surgeon at work on a poor souls scoliosis riddled back, when the builders were done, she’d grown taller.  Nearly a foot of ceiling height was gained, a modest 6′ addition added to the rear of the house to accommodate another bedroom. She underwent eye surgery of sorts, getting all new windows, and a hair cut in the form of asphalt shingles.  Her every day dress is shingled on three sides, but she’s wears her Sunday best, in the form of pale grey painted clapboards, and Nantucket Red painted doors, on her front facade, greeting Parishioners as they head to Holy Trinity just steps away.

She has been an excellent patient, allowing her team to work wonders as they fortify her skeletal structure, remove and strip the toxins – mold, lead, termites – that took up residence at 261 Main, and prepare to insert an entirely new respiratory system (Heat and AC where it didn’t exist before), and a sparkle in her eye, in the form of all new wiring and lighting.  Somehow, even now, with not a light on, she manages to shine.

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The took the whole tree trunk …why not?

This weekend was all about the big push to outfit her.  A gal can’t be expected to wear only one outfit for the next 200 years.  Flooring, hardware, appliances, fixtures, paint colors, wallpaper, you name it.  My head is swimming.  We visited Stonewood Products . 15 Greatwestern Road. W. Harwich to look at flooring and interior siding options.  Rough Sawn Fir, and Schoolhouse Oak, Shiplap in Pine.  I looked at Smeg, Blue Star, Miele, Bosch, Fisher Paykel, refrigerators and stoves at KAM Appliances . 210 Yarmouth Road . Hyannis, MA.  Martha Stewart, Woodman, and Kraft Made kitchen cabinets, and tile, Home Depot.  Subway, penny, Carrera, fish scale, Tileworks . 705 Main Street . Harwich. MA.  Vanities, sinks, color combinations.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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Jim Falla . The Architect in the midst of his creation.

I’ve never seen the point of troubling too much over the decisions.  You make them.  Some are good, some are bad.  You do your research and then take action.  The amount of time you worry over whether or not it’s a good decision, doesn’t seem to impact the outcome for me, one way or the other.  So, since time is money.  I make them quickly.  Jo-Jo does not.  There will be a lot of coaxing to get her to commit.  She makes me put together design boards with three options for every space.  She insists that she is my Client, in the way only Jo-Jo could.  In the way only the youngest in the family could get away with.  Much love Jo-Jo – you’re boards are in the process of being assembled.  Get ready to decide.

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Stonewood Products . I wish you could smell this place…heaven.

As I sit and look at the snow falling in the back yard, I envision a tiny house in its farthest corner.  This tiny spit of land already holds two homes, but I feel strongly that it could accommodate one more. It would be tiny after all.