home is where the couch is

our first house. her big plans. his hard work.

5:44 PM

The Upstairs Bathroom

Posted by Terri |

*NOTE: I didn't start taking photos until we were underway with our reno. I'm horrible at remembering to do that.

Our house was built in 1885. It's pretty old yet beautiful. It also needs a lot of work. It's interesting when tearing your house apart, trying to figure out how they did things and if walls were torn out or ones were built a few decades after the house was built.
We have a bathroom upstairs with a clawfoot tub/shower. I love that thing. One of my favourite things to do is read in the tub.

It was time to renovate the bathroom. We had 'discussions' about ripping everything out including the tub and putting in a newer one, but I was pretty dead set about keeping it. Sometimes it's the only thing keeping me sane, the ability to go escape in the bathtub!
When you first walk into the bathroom, you would see the toilet. It was really awkwardly placed, not really great feng shui, nor pretty to look at as soon as you look toward the bathroom.

The view from the hallway.
That was one issue. The other was that they put the sink right beneath the window.

The man seemed to think that was okay, but he used the downstairs bathroom to brush his teeth, and the kids and I used the upstairs one, so to us, it was ridiculous. You had to get your toothbrush ready, then turn around to look in the mirror and hope you didn't dribble on the floor. So those two things needed to be moved around. Which meant hiring a plumber.
The bathroom itself is really narrow. Four feet by twelve feet. When we started removing parts of the wall, we could see that one of the walls seemed to have been built later than the rest of the house. We could tell because the baseboard wasn't removed when they built the house. Neither was the little pieces of wallpaper that was left behind. They kind of just continued behind the wall. We also think they took down a wall because there's a really wonky section of the wall the juts out a bit. With a bit of detective work, we think that our bathroom door opened into a closet and the rest of the bathroom was part of my daughters bedroom - her room is super tiny - and it must have been bigger at one time. The window also looks like it was a later addition. They must have had an outhouse, but in our digging, we haven't found the remains of that...


Where there is plaster and lath, there was tiles. We put up water-resistant drywall in its place.
  • We ripped out everything except the tub and most of the walls. They're plaster and we wanted to keep them. The man is a perfectionist and the slight wobbles of the walls drive him nuts but I just remind him it's 'character'.
  • We bought a new sink/cabinet from Ikea, which I love. I love the drawers under the sink and the way the plumbing has to be set in the back to make room for the drawers. It's such a non-waste of space and in our small bathroom every bit of space counts. Our drawers hold so much, it's amazing!!
  • Put up two wall sconces.
  • We bought a new tap. I was trying to mix old and new. I love the shininess of the tap and that it has an old fashioned look but it's still modern enough to fit into the bathroom.
  • Ripped out the tiles and put new ones in. This wasn't really in the plans. The man wanted to keep them to save money, and I hated them because it limiting what I was able to do with the bathroom - I was set on a grey and white soothing room and the tiles were terracottaish and gah, I would have had to paint the bathroom beige. Then the plumber came and moved around the plumbing and it would have been a pain to replace the tiles, especially because the floor underneath was a mess and needed to be redone. Bouncy and missing planks. SOO, out came the tiles. Not before I ripped the ceiling in the kitchen apart so that the plumber could get at the plumbing. Because hubby wanted to keep the tiles. Long story short. Huge hole in kitchen ceiling, new tiles in the bathroom.

    At this point, I'm not sure if we had replaced some of the bouncy and missing planks.
    I wish he would stop placing limits and trying to salvage things that just needs to go, it so ruins my plans. The man doesn't really care for the tiles, but you'll find I win a lot of the discussions. It's not because I'm a total bitch, well, I can be, but my logic is that he only notices things for a week or so and then he doesn't notice any changes after that, whereas I notice things forever and if something doesn't look right, it drives me nuts and I drive him nuts complaining...so it's better for everyone if he just gives in on things like design. I give in on things for him too, it's not all one sided. That's why there's a giant mitre saw, router table and treadmill in my back room. Anyway, we put down 2 inch octagon tiles.

    Gross tile before. Man, that was fun smashing it out.
    We also laid the tiles on wood. I know some tilers think this is a big no-no, but that's what the tiles were on before and there was no mold or damage. Also, it's debated all over the web - some tilers say they've been doing it forever and it's been fine. Anyway, this is what we did. You don't have to do the same. We'll let you know if we have any issues. So far, so good.
    My first time laying tiles. Charcoal grout.

    I had sand blasted the tub legs and painted them silver, but I the colour did not go well in the room. So I repainted them dark brown and they look wonderful. We replaced most of the plumbing with chrome, but kept the gold bathtub plumbing due to money. Those things are expensive!!

    It was my first time laying tile and I think I did okay. There's a few spots that are noticeably wider than they should be, and they show up really well because I used charcoal coloured grout. But otherwise I think they're beautiful!!
  • Bought a new toilet. Have you ever taken out an old toilet?? Disgusting. New toilets are the way to go.

  • Put up bead board and trim. I love this stuff. It makes a plaster wall so beautifully smooth and easy to clean. We have a few regrets, things we kind of wished we had done, but we're still unsure if we would have done them. We cut the plaster out around the tub because there was tiles around the tub and me ripping them off sure made a mess. We replaced it with that green mold-proof, water-resistant drywall (is that an oxymoron?). So at least around the tub there is some sort of protection to water and moisture. But what we think we should have done is insulated behind that. Our old house doesn't have a ton of insulation in the walls. We've read such mixed reviews on this. My favourite point of view is here, where the guy has worked on old houses for years. If we listened to him, we did the right thing by not insulating the wall. I wanted the trim above the bead board to be deep enough for me to put things on, like a ledge. I thought I would put all our shampoo and stuff on the end wall, but we haven't done that. 
The chimney is all blocked in and the plumbing in place.
  • Put up a medicine cabinet. Storage, storage, storage!! I went through all of my bathroom crap - it's amazing the stuff you keep, I think I threw out 3/4 of a garbage bag! Crazy!!
  • Put up shelving for towels next to the tub. Again. Storage.
  • Put up a hook next to the tub.
  • Put up coving around the ceiling. It's everywhere else in our house so we were aiming for continuity.
  • Bought a new chrome shower ring.

  • Put the trim along the bottom up and paint it.
  • Strip the door and window trim, sand it and paint it. I'm pretty sure it has lead paint on it. Well, don't yell at me, but we've stripped and sanded things for years now that may have lead in it. We wear a mask and make sure we're outside or the windows are open. This is why this isn't done yet. Winter is long in Ontario.

The blue is just a film covering. It's actually white.
The new view from the hallway.
So yeah. That's our upstairs bathroom. I'll post more photos when I get around to it. We love it. It works well and I think we did pretty good for a really awkwardly laid out space.


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