Thursday, October 21, 2010

Renovation Porn: The Saga Continues

At the conclusion of our last breathtaking cliffhanger, the bathroom stripes were stenciled, the chandelier was hung and the toilet was re-installed, if for no other reason than to put an end to the constant stream of water running out of the supply valve that wouldn’t completely shut off.

But the vanity top hadn’t yet arrived. So the sink and the plumbing and the backsplash and the medicine cabinet and the new wall lighting were all waiting in limbo.

The vanity top had been promised to be delivered in 3-5 business days. But it ended up sitting 8 days in a Tennessee warehouse—where it was no doubt thoroughly indoctrinated in the cerebral political theories of Sarah Palin—before it finally showed up at our door.

And I was so excited to see its awesome white-marble-with-old-timey-veins-of-gray awesomeness that I ripped the packaging open to gaze upon its … endless, relentless diaper-gruel beigeness.

Which means that once again, homedepot.com had shipped me a huge box of frustration and disappointment.

But I’d put the bathroom on hold—and held the entire house hostage to its renovation clutter—for way too long. So goodbye, gray-marble-and-polished-chrome-old-timey-apothecary-themed bathroom dream! And hello, diaper-gruel-colored-1986-suburban-Holiday-Inn-employee-breakroom bathroom depression!

But just like a parent who discovers his child prefers Webber over Sondheim, I stoically shifted gears, embraced my new diaper-gruel color story and set about making my new not-white-and-gray-marble-themed bathroom the best little bathroom it could be.

But not until I’d fake-assembled my new multi-drawered-storage-addict's-dream vanity and diaper-gruel vanity top and shiny polished chrome faucet in the living room just to get an idea what it would all eventually look like:

We’d planned to use cool frosted-green glass tile for our backsplash, but I couldn’t even find a clear glass option at the tile store that went with diaper gruel. But I did find a cool onyx mosaic tile that included the greens of the walls, the grays and whites of the vanity top we thought we were buying, and the diaper gruels of the vanity top we’re stuck with. And once I got it up, I was actually pretty happy with it:

And a creamy filling of snow-white grout made its colors kinda shimmer and dance with each other, but never in a vulgar way. Though the setting sun sure gives it a theatrical sense of drama here, no?

Once the grout was cleaned up, I was a little more at peace with my diaper-gruel color story. Dramatic little tiles can improve any grueling (ahem) setback:
See that notch in the top row of tiles? That’s for the brace that holds up the medicine cabinet. It’s off center so the screw holes in the brace can line up with the wall studs. Normally I can find these studs just by knocking along the wall with my knuckle and listening for what I think is a pretty obvious change in sound when I’m knocking on drywall with a stud behind it. The change in sound in this wall was almost imperceptible, though. And when I cut a hole in the drywall to fish the electrical wires up to their new escape hole over the new medicine cabinet, I discovered why: THERE ARE NO STUDS. The drywall is just attached to thin strips of lathe.

And that’s just one of many appalling surprises I’ve found as I’ve renovated our condo. The original grout was installed by squirrels. The drywall joints are as straight—and attractive—as a televangelist. There are rarely junction boxes for the lights. The electrical wires are only sometimes encased in conduit. I opened one junction box for an electrical outlet to discover that all its wires were sheathed in yellow. (Usually one wire is white and one wire is black or yellow or red or some other non-white color so you know which wire is hot and which wire is neutral—and what the gauge is if that’s important to know for a specific fixture—so your wire connections don’t burn your fucking house down.)

Where was I? Oh, yes: diaper gruel. And there’s no better way to wash it away than with a fabulous polished chrome Victorian/Art Nouveau faucet, which would look extra-fabulous on a white and gray marble vanity top, but what can you do:

And what makes a faucet even better? When you hook up the plumbing and you make water come out of it!

And what would make you suddenly hate your faucet more than you hate the thought that Christine O’Donnell has even one follower who isn’t a toddler with a drinking problem? Water supply lines that drip and drip and drip and never fucking stop dripping:

Unlike most faucets that come in one solid hunk of metal, the one I bought (unbeknownst to me) comes as two separate handles and one separate spout that are all connected by flexible hoses. Unfortunately, those hoses don’t have that “watertight” quality that the kids are all into these days … even when you take them apart and re-assemble them seven fucking times with seven fucking ways of incorporating or not incorporating plumbers’ tape to see if that makes a difference, which it doesn’t. Even more unfortunately, you can’t buy replacement hoses at your friendly neighborhood Home Depot. No! You have to special order them from the faucet manufacturer. Which is the exact opposite of what you want to do when you’d rather rip the faucet out of the sink and throw its drippy worthlessness at the nearest Home Depot employee. Even more unfortunately, buying a whole new style of non-dripping faucet would be even more work than you care to think about because you’ve already bought and installed the matching toilet paper holder:

So as of this writing, the sink and faucet are completely installed, but the water supply lines are shut off until I can calm down and decide what the fuck to do about them.

But! The fabulous mirrored (even on the inside!) medicine cabinet is installed with super-gay under-cabinet lighting to give my dancing backsplash tiles even more drama … even though I made the backsplash probably a bit too high in an attempt to make sure my freakishly tall husband can see all of his handsome mug when he looks in the mirror. Plus in this picture (where I’m sitting on a stool so don’t think I made the backsplash like six miles too high or anything) you can totally see how abso-freaking awesome our chandelier looks … along with the tape marks reminding me to touch up the paint on the door frame:

For some reason, my trusty iPhone was blinded by our ultra-mega-awesome Art Nouveau/Art Deco dramatic-upsweep wall light that doesn’t make you have to look at bare lightbulbs (and everyone knows how much I hate to see bare lightbulbs) so I had to turn it off to take a picture of it for you, which also includes a reflection of parts of my tall handsome husband in the doorway:

Which brings us to the reason we started the bathroom renovation in the first place: The grout in our bathtub/shower had started to crack this summer and I was worried that since it’s on an outside wall the cracks would lead to water damage as the wall contracted this winter. So even though I started the renovation project merely by scraping cracked old grout, I waited until I’d done seven million other things in the bathroom before I filled my scrapings with fresh new grout:

Those of you who’ve worked with grout know that it cures in stages. You mix it. You wait 10 minutes. You mix it again. You wait again. You apply it to the walls. You wait. You squeegee it flat. You … probably see the pattern by now. But all that waiting is the perfect opportunity to take everything out of your nearby closet, get rid of the embarrassing stuff and reassemble everything in orderly stacks:
(middle shelf, left to right: solid T-shirts, casual T-shirts, more casual T-shirts, sleeveless shirts for the gym, tank tops, nicer T-shirts, patterned polo shirts, solid polo shirts (not shown))

And what porn-labeled blog post would be complete without a discussion of how I purged my unwanted shoes (which is like getting rid of your unwanted children … but harder)? But one giant bag of 18 forlorn, destined-for-a-lifetime-of-abandonment-issues-and-therapy shoes later, I can finally say that each pair of my wanted and loved and worthy shoes now has its own home:

And that’s all any proud parent could ever want … aside from children who prefer Sondheim over Webber … and alcohol poisoning over Christine O’Donnell.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I generally like my toilet paper coming over the top rather than under the bottom. People are less likely to touch the wall with their grubby hands.