Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hall Bathroom Finished, or Not

I don't have a BEFORE picture, so imagine this: It's 1995 and you are standing in the door of a bathroom that is ten-and-a-half feet long and five feet wide with a bathtub across the width of the far end. On your left is a long wall covered with country blue wallpaper that has little gold and white flowers scattered across it. On your right is a two foot wide floor-to-ceiling cabinet with medium oak stain. Beyond it is a three foot vanity, also with medium oak stain. Covering the vanity is a cultured marble counter with built-in sink; it is, or was, white with gold streaks.

Cultured marble is a pretentious name for recycled marble waste. Someone figured out how to mix the scraps from real marble, mix it with fiberglass resin, pour it into a mold, and sell it to poor saps who can't afford real marble but want to pretend they can. You know, people like me.

This particular vanity has gold glittery streaks, which only augment it's phoniness. Moe probably chose the vanity to match the glitter in the popcorn ceiling. Of course the glitter in the ceiling isn't gold any longer, it's now black and looks like roach poop. Then again, maybe it is roach poop. Anyway, I digress. The sink is dingy, with dark cracks all around the drain, reminding me of the lipstick running into the cracks around my granny's mouth. Above the vanity is a large plate mirror, with water damaged ripples across the bottom. And above the mirror is a antiqued brass light bar, the kind that is supposed to make you feel like you are in a Hollywood dressing room instead of your ordinary old bathroom. But this one had just regular light bulbs in it, so evidently the previous owners finally realized they weren't in Hollywood.

Next to the vanity is the two-and-a-half foot spot where the toilet is supposed to be. The country blue wallpaper has been ripped off right here, exposing the fact that no sheetrock was ever put behind the toilet because the plumbing and walls didn't line up right. And past that is the new, white Americast tub we just installed, still with exposed studs behind it.

Above all this is a seven foot high ceiling. The heating system is directly overhead in the attic and apparently Moe didn't plan ahead for it's space requirements, or it - and the ceiling - could have been raised another foot. The ceiling is dirty along with the roach poop glitter, and the combination of dirt and popcorn make the ceiling look even lower. I'll wear a particle mask and maybe full face mask when I remove it, one that will make me feel like The Fly. This bathroom does make me feel like squeaking "Help me!"

The tub we put in was an Americast, and we were able to clean and reuse the tub faucet and shower head.

With everything we planned for the house, I asked myself how it would contribute to resale value, or be viewed by a prospective buyer. We had never lived in a house over four years, and I had learned to design for others, not for myself. So what possessed me to put a blue countertop in that bathroom, I have no idea. It was trendy, and I thought it was pretty. Did I think it would be timeless? Doubtful. Did I think buyers would like it? Again doubtful. What was I thinking?

Well, the truth is that I didn't pick the counter first. I picked the tile for the tub surround first. White tile with a border of blue tiles with a shell design.

I did think they were lovely and timeless. What I didn't think about before we already had them on the wall, is how hard it would be to find a countertop to go with them. They are an unusual shade of blue, not navy, not true blue, but more of a sea blue even though this photo doesn't show it that color. Other than a pure white, this was the only laminate that looked good with it. And that is how that bathroom came to have a marbled blue counter.

To fix the problem of the misaligned pipes and wall, we built out the wall about two inches, and ran the counter across it to the edge of the shower wall.

We had the mirror recut to remove the damaged areas, and put the laminate behind the toilet to make cleaning and painting easier. I think I repaint walls more than most women repaint their nails.

After the tile was finished on the tub surround and countertop and sink in place, we moved on to the floor tile, a 4x4 blue and white octagon and dot. We tiled the area by the tub and toilet, and carpeted the area in front of the sink. Remember this is 1995, and that was popular. Not a good idea with small children though. We later re-tiled the entire floor.

We picked a vanity light fixture and towel bars that were chrome with brass trim. Then I was lucky enough to find a matching toilet paper holder at a thrift store.

Years went by until I could repaint the white walls. Since the walls were only seven foot, I wanted to do something that visually lifted the ceiling. I didn't want anything as busy as wallpaper, and thought of painting stripes and experimented with several combinations before settling on this.

To balance the blue countertop, I left the opposite wall solid yellow. The colors work, but they are really too bold for my taste.

By the time I got around to buying door pulls, the brass trim on everything was beginning to discolor and couldn't be cleaned. Since the popular style at that time was brushed nickel, or chrome and nickel combinations, I bought nickel door pulls and painted the brass part of our fixtures.

Last step: refinish the yellowing oak cabinets. Stay tuned for the "after" photo.

Until next time, may you have blessings and perseverance,

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