Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Basin of my existance

It's been a while. Bloggie miss mommy? Mommy miss Bloggie.

So the last week has been dramarama. Endless quests for vanities and color chips, discontinued countertops, back-ordered tile, smelly plumbing supply stores and the bright spot that eclipsed it all - a shower base that was available in 24 hours. I've been spending a lot of time at work the past few weeks, so my husband, who works from home, is alone with Kenny (our contractor and family member) fielding all the questions. And Kenny can ask some questions . I would love to bottle the energy that comes off of Kenny as a cheap renewable power source. I could win the Nobel prize. Kenny's brain works faster than the next ten generations of processors to come and I am still running on whatever powered a circa 1987 Apple IIc, so I am usually lost in the shuffle. Luckily I have Dave to summarize the list of questions for my deflated gray matter at the end of the day. I come home to his illegible scribbles all over the walls as he has taken to writing notes as a means of keeping up and he runs me down the list. The good news is, things are starting to come together.

My tile is on order and I am over the moon about what I selected, I hope that it lives up to my expectations. My shower base arrived and exceeded expectations (see picture) and I ordered lighting. I am challenged to say what the style of the bathroom is (Victorian, transitional, eclectic, or whatever), but I know what is right or wrong as soon as I see it. I have always had very simple lighting in mind when I planned the bathroom. I found something really basic at and they were actually exactly what I saw in my minds eye. A stroke of luck, really.
I have to work over the weekend, so vanity shopping is still up in the air, but I know that I will find what I am looking for, I just need the right alignment of the planets, a little patience and to put Kenny's mind in idle. I know I can accomplish two of those things.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm a little bit (old) Country

With my unpleasant encounter with the barely breathing Tile Mart lady well behind me, I did what my contractor initially told me to do and went to Old Country Tile. It was a little bit of a test of patience as I had to wait until Friday when they had evening hours to visit them, but it proved to be well worth the wait. Thanks to a 20 minute visit with a knowledgeable and personable sales person, I have picked out tiles that exceed my original concept in every way.
I am still going with subway tile, but the border and glass mosaic inset that I was planning have taken a bold new direction. The tiles are too hard to describe, so I am going on a hunt to find the manufacturers so that I can post pictures of what I picked out. Soooo excited. Hubby is not pleased with the bill, but if this shower turns out to be even half as fabulous as I expect, the joy that I will get from looking at it will be payback enough (for me, at least).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The United States of Apathy

In case you live under rock and had not heard (I'd like to know how you cunningly ducked the verbal diarrhea spewing from every talking head on the box), we're said to be in a recession. Every day we hear about how hard-hit small businesses are and that many are folding up their tents and going out of business. If that's the case, what kind of voodoo are they practicing at the Tile Mart? Based on their interest in my business, they must be so flush that they are shredding money, mixing it with water and using it for grout.

I walked in at lunch time yesterday and it was me, myself and tile. It was silent other than the click clack of my heels on the smartly tiled floors. There was no one there but a lone sales person. One who was clearly not on commission and whom without a quick "mirror under the nose" check for breathing, was of questionable vitality. Being that the mirror fogged, I decided to engage her in conversation. This is where she got a little lively. She reminded me of a cross between a two year old and a thirteen year old for her passionate attachment to the word "No" alternating with her complete apathy toward pursuing alternatives that could result in a sale. Here were my questions and her answers.

Do you have 12X12 white octagon tiles? - No
Do you have any size?- Maybe 8X8
Can you show them to me?- OK (Points to tile, walks away)
(I follow her back to the desk) Can you get me a price on them?- (no answer, walks back to tile - quotes price)
Do you carry this brand of tile?- Yes
Do you have the 3x3 beveled tile? - Don't know. I have to look it up.
Do you have glass mosaic tiles xyz combination of colors? - You'll never find that combination of colors, they don't go together. (My face goes purple with rage. My inner monologue is going at 100 miles an hour in my head - "What was that, bitch?!?!?! Questioning my aesthetics? Now it's on. It is so on!"

I wanted to lay her out, but I maintained my composure. I went to the wall of mosaic tiles and began pulling samples, all of which had the two colors in question, the ones that "did not go together" but they were not in the sizes or finishes that I was looking for. I promptly brought them to the desk and laid them in front of her in an "In your face!" gesture. "These are the colors that I am looking for in glass mosaic" I told her politely. To which she replied "We don't have that". At this point I was well over an hour into my lunch hour and getting nowhere. I had to cut it loose. But what I don't understand is, I was standing in front of her with a potential sale. I would have ordered floor tile, wall tile, ceiling tile and accent tile and she responded with the enthusiasm of a teenager being asked to clean the dog poop from the yard.

Recession? Not at Tile Mart.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My paper's too skankalicious for you babe

This is the old wallpaper that I can't get off the walls despite an agressive session with the paper tiger and full-on saturation with the wallpaper eating liquid. It's ok to be jealous 'cause I know you are.

The solution? Re-sheetrock. Though our contractor swears that he can get the paper off, I am soooooooo certain that I want this room stripped to the rafters that I will not bend on this item. Let's see how long it takes him to topple my tower of jello.

Artist rendering of rot - tough to see -I'll subtitle

This is an impossible to see rendering of the side of our house (w/image of shocked and horrified husband inset).
This is my husband's face when he got a hand full
of wood puddin'.

Floor beams and all that rot

When we took the skanktastic vanity out last night, we noticed a plain piece of sheetrock set into the wall. As it was not covered in the nastiest of nasty blue wallpaper that the rest of the room sported, it was clearly a patch. "A patch for what?" we wondered. Seems that it was a patch for a leak that was probably never fixed correctly. Not a surprise.

You see, the prior owners (we'll call them "the Funkettes" to protect the guilty) have done a host of repairs and upgrades to the house that were of, umm, questionable quality to say the least. As a matter of fact, we refer to these repairs and upgrades as being "Funketized". What we saw in the bathroom was more like being "Funked". Seems this leaky area sits against the outside wall of the cantilevered section of the top floor (see artist rendering above). This area has been collecting water for a long enough time for my husband to grab a section of floor beam and come up with a handful of what I can only describe as wood pudding. I was peeling carrots in the kitchen when he came to me with his upturned hand in a claw pattern, covered in wood goo. I was completely horrified at the time, but an hour later this mental image seems funny to me. Pain + time = comedy, I guess.

Turns out that there is good news and bad news in rotville. The good news is that the liquid wood is contained to an 8" length of a single floor beam and its surrounding floor board. Also good, we're in the phase where we can easily update (and remediate) pluming. The bad news is that the wood fascia that is separated from the outside by thin foam insulation and some vinyl is gone. So gone in fact, that you can touch the siding insulation board. This discovery has led us to believe that we have found the genesis of the carpenter ants that we had to deal with when we first moved in. The exterminating bill for that yet another vigirous Funketting. I may have to purge the most current episode from my memory by writing a letter to the delightful former owners . It would start like this - "Dear Mr. Funkette, Funk you!"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bye Bye Ugs

Today was a happy, happy day. My husband took a saws-all to the ugly, putrid, worn out, tore up, nasty, stank, repulsive, tasteless, wack, insipid, crusty, funky, beat up, musty, rotten, unrefined, grimy, filthy, offensive, foul, abhorrent, abominable, repugnant, shabby, vile, detestable, loathsome, horrid, revolting, wretched, shoddy, crummy, crappy old vanity. He hurled it out on to the lawn in chunks of steaming fetidness.
Today was a happy day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Miles of tiles

After a 17 year absence, I finally broke down and went to the Home Depot Expo. I had gone there once when we were renovating our first house and found it to be completely overwhelming and way out of my price range. There were so many beautiful things that I loved on sight, but responded with total sticker shock when I got close enough to see the actual price. This time through I did not see quite as much that impressed me and I was able to look at the pricey baubles with an eye toward "I can get something similar for less elsewhere". So basically, I was trolling for ideas. And the ideas were available in generous supply.

I was only 2 feet inside the door when I saw a beautiful bathroom display that had a black vanity with a square white sink and antiqued black hardware. Might be the way to go, but much more awaited me. I was momentarily diverted by the Christmas Clearance items which, by the way, were 75% off plus an additional 10%. That's right, you heard me - 85% off!!! Needless to say, I took advantage. I then made my way through the pillows and window treatment section. I am fairly certain that everything was silk. I spied a pair of black and white silk buffalo check curtains. They were totally gorg, but long silk curtains? In a bathroom? Not the most practical idea, particularly if we move the toilet under the window (an idea that we are kicking around). Besides, they were $140 a panel, so it would have been almost $300 dollars for the curtains without rods or lining sheers. Besides, romanced as I was by their beauty, I'm thinking shorter, simpler and more tailored, like maybe a roman shade. After taking a spin through the decorative accents, I finally reached my true destination - TILE!!!

The tile area at Expo puts everything up on the wall in little tile vignettes. I could have easily been overwhelmed by the miles of different tile configurations, but only one thing caught my eye - white subway tile with black accents. The tiles were laid out in a simple brick pattern with a mid-point border of black liner tiles with three dimensional white squares between the black borders. Amidst all the marble, ferrari red glass mosaic, relief patterns of urns emblazoned with Zeus' head and other over the top patterns , there was simplicity.

The bathroom will now take shape around this simple arrangement of ceramics. It's great, no, relieving to have a starting point. One decision in my pocket, only 299 more to go.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The madness begins . . . . .

When my husband and I moved into our house 5 1/2 years ago, we knew that the place needed a few upgrades. Our immediate family had expanded to include two children and our prior home, a cute little 'L' ranch, had gotten too tight to contain us. At the time, my husband and I were both spending part of our workweek working from home, so this added to the cramped feel. So the time was right to buy something larger - a four bedroom colonial with a large den and double garage to give us the extra working and storage space that we so desperately needed. Real Estate was high at the time, so while we got a good price for our sale, we also had to pay up for the larger house. The difference in price was not terrible as the new house was a FSBO and that that helped to temper the cost a little. And while there were some upgrades - a mid-late eighties kitchen re-do (someday to be a blog unto itself titled "Diary of an Ugly Kitchen"), vinyl siding and some newer flooring, it clearly needed a lot work.

As soon as we moved in we began what seemed to be an endless stream of improvements on the house, starting with the basics - paint, wall coverings, floors/carpets - on to more complex and costly projects like removing trees from the front and back yard, residing and facing where sections of the house was rotting away, excavating and grading out the backyard (it was mostly a two story hill), replacing windows, regrading and repaving the driveway, putting in a new front walkway, digging a new cesspool, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

All during this time, we were living with a master bath so ugly, so foul, I lived in fear of anyone ever seeing it. Whenever we had company our room and the bathroom were shut off tight. No coats on the bed please. The shower was a 32"X32" box that had an original 1960 shower pan that made my feet itch when I stood on it. As a dyed in the wood germophobe, no amount of bleach was going to get me past that. We re glazed it immediately. The shower doors had brown stripes and looked like something a circa 1975 Motel Six decorator would have rejected. Aside this stifling box was a blue, cast iron tub that had not seen water in 48 years. I know this because it did not have a working hot water handle and there was absolutely no sign of wear. The vanity was big and ugly and the finish was wearing off. One of the prior owners had re tiled the floors to an 8"X8" ceramic tile with a shiny finish that caused you to slip the second any water hit it. And the toilet, oh the toilet. For some reason, the toilet was raised up on a little lip of discolored marble. So when we replaced the toilet with a power assist model ( last year's Christmas gift to the hubby - go ahead laugh, he loved it), we had to add another piece of mismatched marble to make it sit correctly. Preeeetttyyy!

So here we are, finally ready to change this bathroom. I decided to record the events of this remodel on a blog because, like the pain of childbirth, the pain (and joy) of remodeling is soon forgotten. And unfortunately, I am generally a poor story teller. I recall dates, names, places and most chain of events without any accuracy. If I record as I go, I can be spared the embarrassment of my husband contradicting me over some critical fact that I have "misremembered" (hey, if it's good enough for politicians, then why not me?) when I am telling a story at a family gathering. So, without further ado, I invite you to feast your eyes on the before and join us on the journey to the after. Should be fun or at least riddled with enough schadenfreude to keep people entertained.