Friday, September 6, 2013

My Half Bath Renovation

When I bought a three bedroom, two and a half bath, townhouse near Emory University, in Decatur, Georgia, it had been a rental for many years and had not been renovated since it was built in 1974.  I believe there was one carpet replacement during that time but that was it, other than painting again and again and again.  To make matters worse they used a gloss enamel paint that highlighted every wall imperfection, including unsanded spackling and loose sheet rock tape, and they'd painted over wallpaper in several rooms and a couple of accent walls.

The original galley kitchen still had those '70s avocado appliances.  And the kitchen and two and a half baths had matching cabinetry, a darker wood with black wrought iron hardware.  The two full baths upstairs were ceramic but the half bath downstairs had carpet on the floor; light cream colored plush carpet.  You don't want to know what that looked like.

Shortly after closing, Courtney came for a visit with her then three-year-old son, and she thought we should do a project, something small.  The half bath was the logical choice to meet the weekend time restriction, even though it was the one room I thought I could live with for a while.  

Once the decision was made, the fun began.  And demolition is fun.  There's something exhilarating about ripping things apart.   Cathartic, in a way.  We tore out the vanity, removed the composite granite counter top and sink, commode, tore up the nasty carpet, and stripped off the painted over wallpaper.

My neighbor gave me the name of a local non-profit who collects and reuses household and construction items.  You can find out more about Initiative For Affordable Housing  here.  They sent someone to pick up the wooden vanity, commode, and sink top.  I was glad they'd be put to good use.

Deciding on a supply list we headed to Home Depot.  It didn't take long to pick out and purchase a Glacier Bay pedestal sink you can see here, Kohler Devonshire commode found here, Pegasus faucet, toilet seat and all the plumbing accessories we needed, a table top miter saw and a jig saw.  A miter saw.  Just thinking about it makes me smile.  My first real power tool.  I had arrived. 

I was extremely lucky when purchasing materials.  The sink cost less than $35 and the commode was less than $150.  I got the faucet off a clearance table.  I'm a firm believer that you can combine well-made less expensive items with other more expensive pieces and the overall result will be amazing.  

Water lines and drain assembly for pedestal sink

Water hook up for commode

Favorite aromatic hand soap.
Even my grandchildren love the scent.

Not far from HD is a Floor 'n Decor where I selected hardwood flooring for the bath.  I chose a prefinished gunstock oak three-inch-wide individual plank.  I planned to eventually remove all the carpet and tiles from downstairs and install wood floors, so I chose the flooring I wanted for everything but only purchased enough for the half bath at this time.  I also bought glue for the application since I'm on a slab.

We loaded everything into Courtney's "mommy" van, brought it all home and lugged it inside.

We measured and cut the individual boards for the floor -- Courtney measured and I did most of the cutting using the miter saw.  We spread the glue, placed the boards, used a rubber mallet to set them snugly in place.  We used the jig saw to cut an arc where the boards fit against the sewer drain.  Cans of paint and other heavy items weighed the boards down to dry overnight.   The next day we installed the sink, faucet, and commode, crossed our fingers and turned the water on.  We had running water, both hot and cold, and no leaks.  It was definitely a success.

Home Expo had a light fixture that I liked but that was installed later by my son-in-law.

I still get tickled remembering my grandson's admonition when I went outside to cut boards.  Apparently, I'd told him enough times that he memorized my words and actions, later warning me to "Stay back, Gigi!  Stay back!"  This in a commanding voice with his little arms thrust out proclaiming what was a safe distance around his body.  Funny how things sound when someone mimics you.  I think I was bested by a three-year-old.

He got to play with all the leftover cut pieces that couldn't be used and he had a great time pretending to measure, cut, and "install" his own floor on the patio.  I got a little suspicious though when it seemed like he had way too many pieces of wood to play with.  Turned out he was sneaking taking some directly out of the box, as well.  He wasn't happy when he had to relinquish his stash.

Because I'm committed to always presenting an honest account of what we do and how it's done I need to tell you some of the not-so-great things we did that we had to learn the hard way.   One, the boxes of flooring had both full length pieces and pieces already cut in half.  We didn't need to cut all the boards we did so we wasted some material.  Two, and a big safety lesson, we found out the day after demolition that we should have plugged the sewer line in the floor because it's dangerous to have the gases escape.  That scared us and we're very thankful nothing untoward happened.  Three, the walls were almost impossible to finish with the fixtures already set in place.

Four, learning that I needed to hire professionals when I got ready to install the hardwood floor downstairs.  Courtney and I had both glued parts of ourselves to the floor, shoes got stuck, and my knee was glued.  We did it, though, and we did a good job, but it was a bigger job than I originally thought. 

After Courtney returned home I continued smoothing the walls, sanding and adding sheet rock mud as needed.  I decided that I wanted a powder room that reflected my new life in a major metropolitan area, and I found an artist to faux finish the bath.  After some internal debate I decided to go for what I really wanted instead of settling for something less.  I had her produce a metallic copper finish on the walls, seven different colors applied with a trowel.

I have loved it since Day 1.  A decorator friend once commented that I'd never have to provide reading material in the bathroom, they could just look at the walls.  She's right.  This is art.  I have a huge abstract painting applied directly on the walls.

I also did the "unthinkable" by using a gold gilt mirror over the sink, chrome faucets and chrome embellished hinges on the toilet seat cover, along with an oil rubbed bronze light fixture.  Add to that some brass accessories and I have most of the metals represented.  I'm totally in love with my avant garde mixed metal bath!

And, before I forget...
This half bath was featured in an article you can read ... HERE...
which shows what elements... *the pretty stuff*... I incorporated to complete the project.

Now I'm curious -- have you laid flooring or installed bathroom fixtures?
Maybe demo'd something or took on a complete renovation? 
I'd love to hear about it.  I have my bath and dressing room left to do -- {shhh!} -- I'm trying to think up ways to inveigle Courtney's help.  I love receiving comments and would like to know what you think of our project. 

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by...


  1. I've seen this bathroom and it is pretty fabulous. The mixed metals are perfect with the copper metallic finish on the walls. Great job, ladies!

    1. Thank you so much, Anne. Coming from you that's quite a compliment indeed. :-)

  2. Gorgeous!
    Keep checking on the availability of the flooring or buy a box every month ..I didn't and when I went to buy more it was no longer available in my colour....I have the last 3 1/2 boxes stored upstairs for eventual repairs....for places like where my cat jumped on the ironing board and knocked over a cold iron and where the house shifted after a huge reno on the other side of the duplex and siding on my side and theirs....Susan

    1. That's really good advice, and sounds like a tough lesson learned. I can't begin to imagine having a house shift like that. I'm sure it was an absolute nightmare. Thank you for visiting, Susan, and sharing your wisdom! :-)
      ~ Dianne

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