Our Handy-Man’s Special: Bathroom Edition


Talk about perspective…! Our new home, a classic American Foursquare, built in 1927 is one of my greatest blessings- aaaaand projects. It has the most beautiful wood work and old charm, high ceilings and a really classic feel that is homey and yet stylish. But.

I can already tell it’s going to be a long journey to the end, when we’re finally satisfied with the way it looks and feels, but that’s okay. It’s more than okay, actually. I want it. I wanted a “handyman’s special” so I could make this house mine. 

So, when we moved in and two months later the bathroom sink started backing up with black water, I had a pretty cheerful outlook, sort of enjoying the idea that we were official home owners, doing home owner-y things. Broken pipe? No problem-o. My husband is a handy man, indeed!

Here’s my favorite (and most daunting part) – the woodwork. 😀

Buuuuut, then it became this awful “if you give a mouse a cookie” scenario that escalated very quickly, and it turned out we had to tear the entire bathroom out to get to that pipe. In the meantime, we bonded as we brushed our teeth over the bathtub and peed into a commode for a bit. The commode was actually a step up because for three days we were sprinting next door to do “the necessary”. I’ll admit that my cheerful outlook turned into a fake, plastic smile of sheer willpower to get through this as quickly as possible.

Here’s the bathroom before- somewhat outdated with the heavy, dark marble floor, a 3-cabinet vanity with outdated tulip light fixtures and it was actually decrepit. Rotted wood under the sink, broken drawers, painted-over rusty bits, cracked trim and the like. Not pretty, but good enough, and, well, free.bathroom before

But we’re blessed. It took about 7 weeks, mostly because we work jobs and have a life and two little kids in the house and could only do so much at a time. We stepped over screws, boards with nails, avoided the sink in the hallway at night, and piles of tile and joint compound And, while I am perfectly capable of attacking anything with a drill, hammer or paint brush, there were things I simply couldn’t do. So, we called in some friends to help with the demo and fixing that old, crusty (literally) pipe and started to rise up from the ashes.

bathroom during

The sliver lining was, of course, a new bathroom! I was really excited to put it all together because we want to honor the 1927 look and feel of the house, so I kept that in mind as I chose all the new elements. The walls are a somewhat greyish-pinkish, which perfectly fits with the space. Muted, yet pretty. Lowe’s had the most beautiful tile and it was such a great price!! $1.50 per tile. That’s *nothing*. And I learned a new skill- how to tile, mortar and grout a floor!

Honestly, I could sit and watch paint dry and have fun with my husband. (Actually, we did sit for a bit and watch the paint dry…) So, we stayed up many nights until the wee hours of the morning to get this all done as quickly as we were able, but that was okay with me. Doing demo projects with my best friend is one of my love languages….

bathroom floorOh, wait, pause. Did I mention we had to tear into the ceiling in our dining room to address a leak? Good times….when you can look up through the ceiling and hear someone doing their business on the toilet.

bathroom downstairs
Once you get use to the dust everywhere, and on everything, you start to appreciate the softer, diffused light in the room, which hides wrinkles a bit… #perspective.

I wanted an inset bathroom cabinet, but it didn’t work with the space, so instead, we opted for an antique gilded gold mirror and purchased an old-fashioned looking bathroom cabinet from Houzz.com that fit with the style.

bathroom after4It’s a really small bathroom so I wanted to give it a better sense of openness and stuck with smaller, individual pieces, rather than the heavy, overbearing giant sink and cabinet that was there originally. The original sink was over 4 feet long and was so deep that you could hit your teeth on it when sitting down to use the toilet. I opted for a dresser style from Home Depot that was much thinner and shorter for the space.

bathroom after3

Shower curtain is from Pier 1 and it is fabulous all the way.

bathroom after2

Now that it’s all done, I am completely happy with the whole thing. The process was a little touch-and-go, but it had to be done. And I’m happy to have been able to do this with my best friend. I realize not everyone has the luxury of a guy who can tackle things like this- so I consider myself extra blessed. It really is fun, when all is said and done. And you learn a lot about your relationship, too!

One of the things I love about our house is actually how much work it needs. We bought it for a song, and now we get to work together to develop, nurture and shape it- powered by our own two hands, our aching backs, our blisters, our laughter, our intense personalities and strong opinions and all the blood, sweat and tears a home really deserves. 🙂

Look, the bottom line is, we ALL have seasons where everything is falling apart, literally- but there is joy to be found as you put it all back together. 🙂