A look back….on bathroom renovation mayhem!

Picture the scene – Dr. J is hanging some trim pieces, I’m between paint coats on a pair of mirrors that will eventually go in the bathroom and Maggie is doing what she normally does on a sunny Oregon day like today – roaming the house looking for the best sunbeam to crash in. All in all, we are so close to being done on the bathroom that I thought now would be a good time to take a look back at all of the craziness!!! All six months of it!! And even more so – all 2 years of living with it…

First of all, you have to know where we came from:

That was essentially what the bathroom looked like before we moved in, winterized plumbing and all! Having very little no money in our pockets when we first moved into the house, I gave the bathroom a quick $5 upgrade in the form of spray painted Oil Rubbed Bronze hardware with the long-term intention of replacing the faucets and all of the hardware when we saved enough benjamins to do so:

….but after living with this bathroom for more than a year, we started to realize that there were some major issues with this bathroom, which we went into full detail on here. The countertops were damaged, the shower was growing black mold, the cabinets didn’t give us enough storage and overall it just wasn’t our style:

In short, these were problems that a can of paint and elbow grease just wasn’t going to fix! So we began formulating a plan for our dream bathroom that included the inspiration photo below…

…and then our “riff” on the above idea:

Yea, it was gonna be a doozy….of demolition and renovation mayhem! You can read about our demolition process by clicking here, here and here. It was a doozy! But oddly satisfying at the same time…

But we finally got’er done! We dealt with challenges like what to do with ALL of that trash, piles and piles of dust and debris, and low points when we just never thought this stupid bathroom would ever get done – it certainly wasn’t ever going to finish itself, that’s for sure!

But then….something miraculous happened. It actually started to come together! First it was the tile floor, then the paint and ohmygoodness the cabinets!

All of the sudden it was starting to feel like a bathroom again! Then came counters + tile:

…and we drudged on, doing those things that aren’t quite that impressive “on camera” – like tiling the shower:

…and then grouting, caulking, more grout, caulk, touch up paint, painting the ceiling, more touch up paint, cleaning, cleaning, calling 2 contractors (one for the counters and one for the shower door) and just generally sitting on our hands waiting for things to dry, set up and get done….it was a long few months of simply waiting….

…but now that’s over….and it’s all done!

And the most amazing part of the whole thing is that WE did it! All of it! Except for installing the counters and the shower door…we did EVERYTHING. What a feeling of accomplishment! To know that we could never have afforded to hire somebody to do this for us nor could we have ever purchased a bathroom like this straight out of the gate when we bought our house a few years ago. No way was that EVER going to happen. But building from the ground up?? Now THAT’s something we could do! And now we have what I think is truly our dream bath, a room so pretty I still can’t believe it’s ours! I can’t believe how blessed we are to have such a pretty space to wake up to every morning. It makes me smile every time I see it and I just can’t believe that WE did it!

But we didn’t do it all alone! We have to thank our in-laws for helping out in a big way and my Portland “urban family” for bailing me out from the grudging task of sanding the room one night when I just didn’t think I could handle it anymore. But overall, my hubby was really the brains behind this whole operation! He certainly did the lion’s share of the “hard” stuff with me serving as backup supporter whenever possible. He did all of the plumbing, electrical, most of the tiling and all of the complicated millwork and carpentry. He’s an amazing man! I’m so lucky to have him!! But really it was absolutely a team effort on both our parts. We both demoed the bee-jesus out of that sucker and whenever Dr. J was doing one thing, I was off doing something else relative to the bathroom. If he was laying tile, then I was backbuttering them before he laid them. If he was working on plumbing, then I was running up and down turning the water mains off. If he was drilling his hand to the wall, then I was driving him to the ER. Ya know, classic married couple romantic stuff. ūüôā

All in all, it was an amazing journey and I am SO GLAD we did it. But just like an exhausted brand new mom post-delivery, I can’t exactly say that I’m rip-raring and ready to go for another monster renovation anytime soon. However, we learned a LOT and are so stoked to have a bunch of new tools in our arsenal (both figuratively and literally). We are pretty damn close to the final reveal. It’s gonna happen, peeps. I’ll bet you’d like to see all of the after photos now….but it’s gonna have to wait until that damn mirror dries!

…so close so close so close….

We’re remodeling our master bathroom and it’s a doozy!  You can click on the following links below to see what it’s all about: The Bathroom begins…, Demolition Day 1 and Day 2 and how we got rid of all that trash!  Our budget and a tile previewand a little look-see into what MY view is when my hubby is installing electrical and avideo view of what all of the demolition looked like before we started installing things. Check out our desperate attempt to keep the house clean while we renovate and another video update with a sneak peek at our gorgeous marble floors!  Then you can also see moments of despair as we struggle to maintain sanity after over a month of bathroom renovating!  And then there was paint…  And then the cabinets and toilet were installed…  And then we began tiling…….and then it started to look like a bathroom again!  And then I teased you in a major way….Then we finished the shower and took a summer vacation away from all of the finish work…but managed to throw in this one last teaser photo just for the helluva it!  Stay tuned for more updates!


Renovation + Cleaning = fugheddaboutit…

I love a clean house.¬† I hate cleaning. ¬†And yet I still love a clean house.¬† Conundrum?? ¬†Absolutely. ¬†This is why¬†I have a wonderful cleaning lady who is absolutely worth¬†every penny¬†I pay her to come and clean the house once a month to help keep me on track. ¬†Problem solved! ¬†However, I haven’t really been calling her lately because it is *just* not worth it. ¬†The trash, the dust, the demolition – no, it’s REALLY not worth cleaning. ¬†Let me show you the dust pile I collected from the front hallway DOWNSTAIRS after one day of bathroom renovating/drywalling, etc.:

This is downstairs, people! ¬†A full floor away from all of the mayhem. ¬†And sure enough I got just about the same amount of dust the next day too.¬† It’s also spring, which means it’s Maggie shedding time, so that certainly adds to the dust bowl.¬† Le sigh….oh, it’s *so* not worth it to clean, but we can’t leave it dirty every day – drywall dust, pollen, dog hair, etc – makes for a very itchy nose, lots of sneezing, and dog paws don’t like getting impaled by errant nails and drywall screws.¬† So we’ve given ourselves a few “chores” at the end of the day just to keep ourselves sane:

  • About an hour before we think our energy is going to completely tap out, we stop what we’re doing and clean up EVERYthing at the end of the day.¬† Typically, it involves Dr. J or I splitting up and one person starts in the bathroom and the other person starts in the garage.¬† We clean up everything we possibly can and slowly work our way to a middle ground, vacuuming and mopping the whole way there….whistling optional…
  • Yes, we vacuum EVERY.SINGLE.DAY now.¬† With the shop vac and the Dyson, I’d say they’re getting a pretty hefty workout these days.
  • Dr. J and I had an agreement when we started this project that I wanted our master bedroom to not become a tool graveyard if at all possible.¬† It helps keep things feeling serene and restful, which is kind of important in a bedroom.¬† Aside from the random glove and/or beer bottle, the bedroom has NOT been overrun by tools and supplies, which is SO great.
  • We dust our bedroom and keep our closet doors closed, drawers closed and all of the other bedroom doors upstairs CLOSED whenever we are working in the bathroom.¬† If I can get the above pic worth of dust DOWNSTAIRS, then you know it can get all over the upstairs bedrooms too.¬† May as well save the trouble of dusting eleventy billion surfaces in the house…
  • The upstairs is mostly chaos.¬† The hallway is all covered up with paper,

  • …there are tools and supplies stacked ceiling high in our office, we have a door laying on its side in the guest bedroom, the guest bath is overflowing with toiletries and temporary storage¬†solutions while we camp out there for a few months:

  • and the master bath is in a constant state of repair and disrepair. ¬†Though we do keep it covered most of the time so we don’t have to look at the mess:

  • All in all, it’s a mess.¬† However, we have been very diligent about keeping our downstairs living room and upstairs room of requirement tool free!¬† So at least we always have¬†two places we can retreat to each night to wind down and relax.¬† It’s good for us and, let’s admit it, it’s good for Maggie, too :-).

So there ya have it.¬† Remodeling is a b$%^&.¬† But the results are oh-so-amazing.¬† Stay tuned later this week and we’ll update with yet another video of the ever-evolving bathroom remodel.¬† We’re FINALLY starting to see things put IN the space as opposed to TAKEN OUT.¬† It’s such a good feeling!!!

We’re remodeling our master bathroom and it’s a doozy!  You can click on the following links below to see what it’s all about: The Bathroom begins…, Demolition Day 1 and Day 2 and how we got rid of all that trash! Our budget and a tile preview and a little look-see into what MY view is when my hubby is installing electrical and a video view of what all of the demolition looked like before we started installing things. Stay tuned for more updates!

For your viewing pleasure…a bathroom update!

Rather than typing a whole update on the plumbing and electrical, we thought it’d be easier to have Dr. J give you an overview on camera….’cause let’s face it….typing’s hard…

So click here to see the video, which will take you to YouTube. ¬†We still can’t do embedded videos yet – that takes money and all of our money is wrapped up in our loo at the moment.

So if you’re at work and can’t watch, here are a few highlights:

  • The bathroom is completely torn down to the worst possible place it can be. ¬†It’s got to get uglier before it can get prettier…
  • Maggie saying hi. ¬†Ooohhh….she’s so cute!
  • Dr. J explaining the various wires and doodads hanging from the walls.
  • Dr. J showing you our new sconce holes – they’ll be prettier once they have actual SCONCES in them. ¬†To be determined…

So there ya go. ¬†Now the full disclosure part. ¬†We shot this video about a week ago and this weekend Dr. J’s dad is in town helping us “button up” the room. ¬†We may even get to tiling the floor later today….ooh…..stay tuned….

Bathroom demo…let’s talk trash…

Normally I wouldn’t devote an entire post to trash, but when you’re doing a renovation (big or small), you generate a¬†ton of it and you really need to¬†plan ahead about where all of¬†it’s going to¬†go, especially in a green city like Portland, Oregon.¬†¬†Since I try to live a relatively “green” life (and believe me, it’s not easy), we tried to think ahead about reusing or repurposing as much trash as possible, but this is one of those times where¬†a lot trash just can’t be¬†avoided and you just need to take a dump….err…take it to the dump (oh, potty humor, you always get me!).¬† Our trash ended up being mostly tile, which¬†can’t be reused or recycled (at least not without a serious amount of creativity and right now we don’t have time for that nor the storage space).¬† Time to take a dump!¬† Take it TO THE dump!¬† *snickers*…

Portland is¬†one of the greenest cities in America, which means they really frown upon illegal dumping and mis-use of our dear trash overlords.¬† If you come here and don’t think about trash and how you’re disposing of something at least once a day, then you really don’t understand how to live like a Portlander (nor a European for that matter, but we’ll limit lecturing to the good ol’ U S of A).¬† Recycling programs are mandatory in Portland and you better follow it to the letter.¬† To paint a bit of a picture for you our trash cans¬†are half the size of our recycling bins.¬† In the pic below, from left to right, it’s recycling, glass, then trash, so you can see it’s not really very generous in size.¬† It’s a darn good thing we’ve been recycling since age 10!

While you can ALWAYS drive things to the recycling center for free, you cannot just leave items out for the trash man to pick up close to your trash bin like you do in some cities.¬† Portland doesn’t have “bulk pickup” either.¬† In other words, if your trash doesn’t fit in your piddly little bin, then you have to find a way to dispose of it yourself and that almost always involves a trip to the dump and a price per ton.¬† I believe wholeheartedly that this is a wonderful thing (because look at me, I’m writing a whole damn post about TRASH so obviously it’s working!), but it does require careful planning and foresight of where to take that dump….darnit!¬† Potty humor AGAIN!

So rewind a few weeks/months to our “pre-planning bathroom demo/remodeling sessions” (which sound organized, but I assure you they were not) Dr. J and I started talkin’ trash before we even talked trash.¬† We knew right away we’d be generating a LOT of trash and as desirable of an idea as it sounds to put ONE bag in our trash bin once a week for pickup, we decided that dragging out our trash pickup over the course of six months probably¬†wouldn’t be¬†such a good idea when we still need to throw away other items (like food, dog poop and other gross things – hey, it’s TRASH!).¬† I also didn’t want to be “those” people on the block who look like the Clampetts.¬† Nope, we need to bring in the big guns for this job….Whoooo doggies!

One day we saw a commercial for this:

Ooooh…..yea…..whatever you can fit in the bag and then they come and haul it away.¬† Rather, they can hold 3300 lbs of trash, which seems like it’d be the perfect size for our job!¬† The bag¬†wasn’t cheap….about $129 for a collection, but it’s just about the right size and with all of the trash we’ll be generating it seems really worth it!¬† We could always order a couple of them and fill those up and then they’ll haul it away whenever we’re ready.¬† It’s perfect!¬† It’s in Portland….it’s not….in the suburbs!¬† GAH!¬† Scratch that idea…back to square one.

Ok, so what about a dumpster? 

Cue the Beverly Hillbillie music and welcome Jed Clampett.¬† It’s definitely not a looker¬†and probably overkill for our needs (our bathroom is less than 80 square feet), but it would solve the problem of having to drag things to and from the city dump which is on the far side of town from where we are, which is a considerable haul (pun intended).¬† Add to that the fact that we’re currently rocking two small-mid sized sedans between us and¬†that dumpster is beginning to look more and more desirable.¬† But the price was close to $3,000 for the length of the project and that doesn’t even include the possible HOA fees, permissions and permits we would need to pay for on top of that.¬† Scratch THAT ridiculous idea because that just blew our whole bathroom budget.¬† Back to square one…AGAIN!!!

Then Dr. J was trolling Craigslist one day (I dunno how he thought of it…), but apparently with the economy being in the drink a lot of people who have trucks and no employment are making a living picking up big dumps and recycling and hauling those things¬†away for¬†a small fee.¬† I mean….small!¬† Like totally worth it small!¬† As in about the same cost of the bagster idea small and we don’t have to drag it out to the city dump and waste a whole day of renovating.¬† And they took everything – including our old mattress that is not donatable to Goodwill (due to beadbug fears) and not trashable either (remember, there’s no such thing as bulk pickup of trash in this city).¬† We had to do two major hauls (one after demo day 1 and one after demo day 2 which included our broken toilet).¬† And at a price of¬†$350 total, it was completely worth it.¬† We’re also pretty sure we’ll have another haul before the project is over and then possibly another one after the project is totally complete, so it’ll likely end up being around $500 total for trash pickup and haul away.¬†

So what’s the verdict?¬† Never underestimate the power of Craigslist and the need to keep people employed no matter how small the job seems.¬† It’s certainly a job that’s worth it to me to pay somebody for.¬† And if you’re in the market to begin remodeling something, really stop to think about how you are going to dispose of the debris.¬† It’s gotta go somewhere, right?¬† Make sure it goes where it belongs!¬† And keep as much out of the dump as you can.¬† In fact, here is our recycling/donate list:

  • Old cabinets = new storage for our garage – well, eventually, when we actually get around to installing them
  • Old sinks = Habitat for Humanities bound
  • Old faucets/hardware = Habitat for Humanities
  • Old chandelier from our kitchen = also Habitat

All in all, we weren’t able to salvage everything (I really didn’t want to have to trash our toilet, but it was a no go), but we feel pretty good knowing that the pieces that weren’t too heavily damaged in the demolition are going to find a new life and home in a place where they will be appreciated more.¬† And we didn’t fill up a landfill, which makes us feel even better!!

Bathroom Demo Day 2

Woke up Sunday feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. ¬†But we still had to remove the toilet, all of the shower tile and the remaining floor tile. ¬†Removing the toilet wasn’t so easy….

A shoddy (and crooked) install meant we couldn’t undo the bolts. ¬†We didn’t care that much to trouble shoot it, so out came the sledge! ¬†So much for trying to recycle that loo to the Habitat for Humanities ReStore (they love low flow toilets!). ¬†Moving on, we still have all of that floor tile to pull up which was a downright b$%^&! ¬†By the end of the day, though, I was victorious! ¬†Seriously, that floor didn’t come up without a fight and Queen B$%^& of the Household (that’d be me, L-blogger) prevailed over that stupid B%^&* of a floor. ¬†In the end, it was MY B%^&*! ¬†Yea, that’s right. ¬†I called it out, I hammered away and that floor was gone, gone, GONE!!!!!! ¬†Stupid miserable lil’…..I’m moving on, okay?!

Dr. J worked on the shower while I was wailing away on the floor. ¬†We started with the weird arch-y thing and realized that a Sawz-all would probably be pretty damn useful about now. ¬†We don’t own one and we’re in no hurry to get it down, so we just hacked away at what we could and moved on to the tile on the sides of the wall:

Check out that huge chunk of wall!!! Oh, sorry for the biker helmets - we improvised and this is what happens when non-contractors improvise. Better than ski helmets, though!!!!

What’s really funny about that last picture is that as I was taking it, the wall literally fell off and pushed Dr. J back into the corner – oops! ¬†Oh, and the bike helmets were a “better than nothing” solution. ¬†It was either that or ski helmets and it was too damn warm for that! ¬†Anyway, the shower took a *really* long time to demo. ¬†We opted to take the full wall approach rather than trying to demo individual tiles (too time consuming). ¬†So we hammered away at the edges until we got a little clearance to the studs, stuffed our pry bars in there and yanked. ¬†It may or may not have involved us climbing the wall to get the right leverage we needed and it took both of us to get ‘er done! ¬†And then we had to carry all of the pieces down the stairs and holy crap!!! ¬†MARBLE IS HEAVY!!!!!!!!!!!! ¬†I think the neighbors are fully aware that something nuts is going on. ¬†We filled up another 4-5 bags of heavy duty trash bags and dragged them down stairs one by one (more on that later!!).

So at this point, the floor was out, the shower was out, the toilet out and our fears were kind of semi-confirmed about the mold issue on the back wall of the shower. ¬†Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be….but after only 6 years of use it shouldn’t have been bad at all! ¬†Luckily the shower tub will also be coming out (eventually) and we’ll be replacing all of that sheathing with brand new here in a few weeks. ¬†For now, we’re back to work this week and taking a break from all of the broo-ha-ha. ¬†And it couldn’t have come soon enough. ¬†I think Maggie was about to have a heart attack from all of the pounding!

Gratuitous puppy shot!

So here is where we left the day on Sunday night…

Toilet = GONE!

Not to mention the progress we made on Saturday with the vanity completely gone and the tub surround and tile all removed! ¬†Overall, I’d call that a pretty sweet demolition! ¬†And just remember, things have got to get ugly before they get prettier!!!

Bathroom Demo Day 1

Well, those TV shows make it look easy….and fun! ¬†And demo is fun, that’s for sure. ¬†But DAMN is it tiring! ¬†And considering it was just the hubs and I (and I don’t pull nearly as much weight as Dr. J), I’m very proud of where we ended up the day! ¬†Here’s a little photographic proof.

We had moments of showing off….


Me with my sexy new pry bar and tool belt
Dr J….just sexy ūüėČ

There were moments of sheer excitement and euphoria:


Dr J, ridin' like a cou-boy (ahem....the counter)

L-blogger, proving that it doesn't take much of a mountain to feel like you're on top of the world...

….and then there were moments of “What the hell?!” ¬†Like when we opened our bathtub wall area to find old Corona bottles stuffed in there….like a really gross message to the poor shlubs (us) that opened it up in a few years….classy…

…but at the end of the first day, here we are….and we’re right back in the saddle again tomorrow!


The cabinets and mirror are gone!
All the tile around the tub is gone….and so are the beer bottles!

So this is how far we got today:

  • Removed the mirror and counter (thank goodness we have somebody coming to pick them up tomorrow morning to take them to the dump!
  • Moved the cabinets down to the garage where we will recycle them for some much needed tool storage and a future workbench for Dr. J
  • Half of the floor tiles are gone and will also be picked up tomorrow and taken to the dump.
  • All of the tiles around the tub are gone – you might notice that we’re keeping our tub. ¬†It’s in good shape, so why bother changing it?

…and here were a few other fun discoveries:

  • The builders installed the cabinetry on the sub-flooring instead of on the tile flooring. ¬†This isn’t a big deal (and it made it much easier to pull up the floor tiles as a result), but it’s certainly poor form and overall C-H-E-A-P!
  • Beer bottles and a ton of other trash that was thrown under the tub as what – a time capsule? ¬†Who knows? ¬†Regardless, it’s just gross…
  • We filled up 5 very heavy trash bags with debris and junk….and yes, we hauled every single one of them from the back of the house, down the stairs, out the front door, and to our driveway to, again, be picked up tomorrow and dragged to the dump.
  • Our tiles were so poorly installed that, for the most part, they came up pretty easily. ¬†Much of that was due to a pretty shoddy thin-set job and oftentimes just using globs of thin-set rather than back buttering….more on that later.
  • And we closed out the day (as good contractors do), by cleaning up the mess and still managing not to have ANY tools left in our master bedroom, which I consider to be a pretty amazing feat!

And now that the first day is over and I’m very much pooped, I’m off to relax the rest of the night away with the hubby and wake up early tomorrow and start the madness all over again. ¬†Tomorrow we’ll be demoing the shower and toilet….yikes!

It’s on like Donkey Kong…

Currently our garage looks like this…

…those are our cabinets taking up pretty much every single inch of usable space.¬† While we’re at it, I should mention that as of this morning, our master bathroom looked like this:

That is to say….EMPTY!

Put yer game face on, kids…the bathroom is about to be….JAMMED!¬† Excuse the mess and stay tuned for intermittent updates and posts – quite possibly more video content, possibly less.¬† Quite possibly some fearful updates stating things like, “WHY THE HELL DID WE DO THIS?”¬† You know…the usual bits and pieces.

My current state of mind:¬† worried!¬† Dr. J’s current state of mind: ¬†excited like a kid before Christmas.¬† I’m excited too, but worried that we haven’t completely picked *every*thing out ahead of time and are kind of ‘flying by the seat of our pants’ on some things (namely tiles and fixtures).¬† However, in the end, I have to say that I’m extremely happy with where the bathroom needs to go and not too worried about being able to find those things in the end.¬† I just gotta say – Google is an incredible thing :-).

Overall, you’ll just have to stay tuned.¬† It’s gonna be a slog of a project so prepare yourself for dirty pictures of us, disorganization and quite possibly a few “OMG” moments to come….your patience will be rewarded, grasshopper.

See a little bit of background on this project by clicking here and you can see it in 3-D by going here and checking out our video house tour!