Sunday, January 1, 2012

Time to Reflect

Wow! It's 2012 and, if it is anything like 2011, I am going to have to strap in and hold on tight for a fun ride! Over the past year, my husband and I have gone through a month of being apart while he served in South Korea, a major bathroom remodel (see below), a week long dream vacation in Orlando, and new jobs for both of us. It has been a year filled with blessings, and I can't wait to see what the next year has in store for us. Happy New year!

I want to share my remodeling experience because it is one of my biggest accomplishments to date, and something I am very proud of. Not having the cash to hire professional contractors, I took on the project with the help of family and friends. It took a few months (technically there are still some tiny details....ok....not so finish up) but for a DIY I don't think we could have done better. Well, here goes :)

This is the way our bathroom looked for three VERY long years. I lovingly refer to it as our shoebox bathroom, because it is not very big (and it is the only one we have). Notice how we only had half a floor....and the cabinets and I didn't get along very well either. There was also some lovely moldy-looking wood I got to admire every time I would take a bath...It had to go, so with the help of my handy knows-how-to-do-everything dad, we finally got started in March.

The most painful part of the remodel was scraping, scraping, chipping, scraping, and scraping some more. If you have ever tried to remove old peeling paint (not wallpaper, PAINT....and glue) from walls, you know what I am talking about. The picture above left shows the stubborn paint after we enlisted the help of some very potent chemicals....after HOURS of chipping at it.

Oh, and maybe I forgot to mention that during this process my husband was in South Korea for a month, and my parents live two hours North, so we were only able to work on the bathroom during the weekends...sooo...the picture on the right shows the general state of the bathroom for my every-day use for more than a month. The basket resting on the skeleton for the new wall contained all of my essentials, and my toothbrush found its new home in our kitchen.

At least my new tiled wall was making some progress. But, as everything in life goes, sometimes you take one step forward just to take two steps back...or three...or four. When we started the project my dad made it very clear that there were two things he was not going to do: plumbing, and lifting the toilet. He must really love me, because in the end he did both, but I now understand why lifting the toilet is a very very bad idea.

Lifting it is the easy part (and it had to be done since the floor was halfway rotten from being exposed to wet feet for so long). It is getting it put back down in place with no leakage that's the problem. We thought everything was honkey-dory at midnight when we went to bed, but when we woke up to a flooded bathroom the next morning, we knew everything was not, in fact, ok. So we lifted it again, went back into town to get a new wax ring, and tried again....and it leaked...again.

Here I am sitting on the toilet in the hallway, completely overwhelmed and a little bit depressed. This was not going well. So we got another wax ring (at about $5 to $7 a ring, this was enough to be depressed about) and got it seated correctly on the third try. Yay!!! No more leaking....right? Wrong.

When we went to later grout behind the toilet, we thought we would only take off the tank so we wouldn't have to ever lift the toilet again. Well, when we put the tank back on, my husband, who now was back from Korea, superhumaned it on and cracked the entire toilet in two. I wanted to cry...but instead we got in the car and went to Home Depot to go get a new toilet (not originally part of the budget either). We got it home and installed when, alas, it was leaking...AGAIN. Two wax rings later we found out the toilet had a hairline crack in it, so back to Home Depot we went.

Oh, and we didn't have a flange....who knew...apparently it's supposed to be permanently attached, but since I am not in the business of lifting toilets all day long, I had no idea it was missing. Two toilets and I don't know how many wax rings later (lost count after number 4) we finally have a working toilet and it is NEVER GETTING LIFTED AGAIN. Ok....enough about the toilet.

The sink was next, and I can't even begin to describe how excited I was to get rid of the banana-peel-yellow counter top and doors that somehow always got stuck right when you had a toilet paper emergency. A bigger mirror would also be very handy since two people getting ready in such a small space has um...well, let's just leave it at that....isn't the sink simply gourgeous?

Fast-forward a few more weeks and things were finally starting to come together. It is amazing what you can do with a little bit of paint. Well, I know you must be anxious to see the final result by now, so I will skip the gory details and get right to it :)

I have successfully transformed my shoebox bathroom into my own personal getaway (no more rotten wood or gross yellow counters). Was it easy? No, but totally worth it. However, I couldn't have done it without the help of others, my mom and dad especially, and for that I will eternally be thankful. Up next, the kitchen....but that might be a few years :)


  1. Just as lovely in real life, Nicolene! I loved seeing your home and the new remodel! You all did an excellent job!

    1. Thank you Stephanie! We loved having you over. You should come and visit again soon :)

  2. Oh you poor thing. Just reading about the toilet saga made me want to weep a little. It turned out lovely! Great job. I would like to know more gory details about how you made it work with a single bathroom, since I'm pretty sure I'm going down that road myself before long.

    1. Oh, I definitely did want to break down and cry, but with no alternative, we just had to keep at it until it was fixed.

      I will say that having a huge mirror really has made all the difference. Getting a custom size cut for the space was only $50 more than the largest standard size at Home Depot, and it allows me to do my hair and makeup while my better half is brushing his teeth or getting his own hair to behave. Only having one bathroom is a non-issue at this point, but I will probably change my mind once we have little ones running around.