22 August 2010

Playing Catch-Up

It all started two years ago.  Well, the honest truth is that it started the summer I was fifteen years old, when I had the bright idea that my grandparents should completely remodel their main floor bathroom.  I begged and pleaded, wheedled and whined for them to give me a modest budget, with which I would completely transform their minuscule 9x6 foot bath from slubby and dated to pretty and perfect.

It never happened.  My Nan was completely in love with her bathroom which suited her, and their needs at the time, perfectly.  I was quite frustrated, of course, and more than a little insulted that they felt I couldn't be trusted with a couple of thousand dollars and a can of paint, though with the passing of years I see how ridiculous I must have sounded.  My point in recounting this memory is this: at age fifteen I felt that bathroom was ready for a change and now, seventeen years later, I at last had my chance!

So the beginning of the present project, if not the idea itself, was two years ago.  We had been living in the house for four years and had done very little to change the space to reflect us as a family, besides painting and moving our furniture around on a quarterly basis.  I had been lusting for a significant change somewhere - anywhere - in the house, but Daryn had sidelined his career to stay home with our youngest and we were not flush enough to take on a major renovation.  Couple that with raising two young children and a dog, managing the house in general and commuting to/from work in the city, and home improvements landed, quite frankly, at the bottom of our list of priorities.  My shelter magazines, which I collected religiously and which grew in piles like weeds all over the house, teased me with what "could be" but essentially just gathered dust once I'd read them through.

Then fate stepped in, if you believe in that sort of thing (which I do), in the form of a roof leak.  Shingles and flashing gave way to rain water which streamed into our main floor bathroom.  Already we had been having difficulties with that room: a previous leak had cracked the plaster, which my grandparents cleverly disguised by wallpapering over it.  They only used that bathroom for tub baths - showers were strictly a downstairs bathroom activity - so steam in a vent-less room wasn't an issue for them.  Not so for us.  We showered on the main floor like, we thought, "regular people", and as a result the crack swelled, the plaster crumbled and the wallpaper started peeling off the wall like snake skin.  The roof leak was the nail in the proverbial coffin: we needed to renovate.

So how did we go from a leak in 2008 to a renovation in 2010?  What took so long?  The answer is this: many, many things.  Though we created detailed plans and made many false starts in the manner of hardware purchases, which are now collecting dust in our basement (does anyone need a clear glass vessel sink?  a box of wall tiles imported from Italy?  wall sconces from Restoration Hardware?), other issues surfaced during those two years that bumped the bathroom steadily down the priority list.  Specifically, since 2008 we have:

  • purchased a new car when our old one bit the dust unexpectedly
  • replaced the roof
  • installed a new furnace, and new A/C
  • installed new windows in our sun room, kitchen and half of our basement rec room
These things take a toll on the bank book, I'm sure you'll agree.

However, in January everything came together for us, and 43 days ago the first sledgehammer hit the wall and got this whole ball rolling.  The next few posts will be story of how one tired, dilapidated bathroom (pictured below) got its groove back.