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Finishing Our Bathroom Renovation at 7 Months Pregnant

It’s finally time to unveil our bathroom reno! We are not handy people, although we are slowly becoming so, and so this was a big undertaking for us. Money has been an issue since Jason’s stroke, and normally it would not have been the time to do a big renovation like this, but our bathroom was just awful and we’d discovered a leak in the roof affecting the bathroom ceiling and some bad pipes that were super close to causing a major problem. That, combined with a little one (four months pregnant when we started) on the way and dreams of a bathtub we could actually use to give the girls a bath gave us the push to finally do it. So here it is!


And after!! We did pretty much everything. The tub, floors, walls, outlets, air vent, ceiling, everything! We left a few things because of money, but updated them as best as we could.

Our first day was on January 12th, and it was demo day! We had this awful green tile from the sixties all over the bathtub, and up half the walls. Above that was the horrible textured walls, peeling and stained. Gross. The tile was especially hard to remove against the outer wall because it had been adhered to some concrete and wire. We had to pull it off, as well as smash it, and it was a lot of effort! Bebe helped us a lot on demo day, watching Everly sometimes, and then trading with me to tear down the walls. Originally we thought we wouldn’t have to move the big sink cabinetry, so we only tore out right above it. We corrected that much later on. 

At the end of day 1, this is what we had. All the tile was gone, and we were exhausted: 

The next day we took down the remaining walls. This was a much easier without the tile, but the corners around the doors and windows were kind of rotted a bit because of the leak, and we had to uninstall and reinstall the toilet, so it was still a whole day’s work. We didn’t remove the door frames because again we thought we wouldn’t need to, but we did have to do that later. 

Not bad for a weekend’s work!

Our next work day we had a little extra help, as we had another foster kiddo come and stay with us for about a week. Everyone thought putting in insulation would be fun, so I had lots of help while Jason worked. We’d also had Bathfitter come by this point, so our tub was done (all in one day!), and we’d removed the window frame and leftover tile from next to the installation, and moved the light fixture up to the ceiling so we could drywall. There’s a sneak peek of the bathtub in the top left photo:

The little girls helped me stuff insulation under the window, and Bebe stapled the heck out of the bags as I held them up. It was easy work, but took some time with three girls “helping” me at every turn.

The next step was putting up drywall, taping and mudding, and that process took several days, so here is Everly amidst my mess on various days! She got to be quite good at navigating the construction zone. During this time we also had a roofer come out to fix the roof, and plumbers come out and install new piping in the walls. This was probably a period of a few weeks.

This is when we discovered we’d definitely have to move the cabinet piece. We’d done the top half of the drywall with the help of Jason’s brother Mike, who taught me how to do it (I did the wall with the window completely by myself, with measuring, cutting drywall, installing and taping and mudding!), and I’d taped and mudded the seams and screw holes so we were at the end of what we could do at the top half. We were going to just drywall up to behind the cabinets, but we discovered that behind it was a layer of tile, so we had to uninstall it all, move it away, tear out the tile and drywall behind it, and put up the new drywall. Mike and Jason did that part mostly, and I painted the cabinet. It was painted to still be the same basic color, but it freshened it up considerably. 

Once the drywall was up we spent the next day moving down one outlet, adding another outlet, putting in a dimmer switch, and installing a vent into the bathroom. When we moved in the room had no vent and no outlets at all! I don’t know how they managed that for 50 years.

Ta da! End of the drywall installation!

This side we had to uninstall the toilet, quickly mud up the corner a few coats, and reinstall it. After this I spent the next few weeks in my spare time (ha!) mudding all the seams several times, waiting for them to dry, and sanding. 

Sanding, and cleaning up the sanding, is definitely my least favorite part of the process. Those little areas near the doors and in corners is tough! I slept very well these days. This photo below of my final day of sanding was on February 21st (four months until baby would arrive, so I was out of breathe a lot), so by this point our bathroom had been a construction zone for almost 6 weeks. 

The next day we did all the painting! We had two more kids with us this time, and I offered them the opportunity (I was full on Tom Sawyer, let me tell you) to paint, and they accepted. I did the ceiling, and they did the first layer on the walls. Because I’m a ridiculous perfectionist, I did the second layer myself. 

I wasn’t too sure about the paint color at first. It looked darker and bluer than I wanted, but once all the other stuff starting coming in (like warm light!), I loved it. Everly wanted to be involved of course, so she patiently looked at our picture albums while I worked. 

Next, although I absolutely should have done this before painting the walls, I spray painted the door handles and the faucet. The handles and hinges were easy, we just took them into the garage and sprayed them down. The faucet was much tougher. We had to very very carefully tape around it, protect the walls (I used large pieces of cardboard), and use plastic to protect it all. Then we propped the windows open and added a fan to help with circulation, put on my face mask, and painted away. It took about three layers, and there was a bit of a learning curve when we sprayed too close to the faucet, but eventually it looked really good. It was a heck of a lot cheaper than buying new fixtures, and we were pleased with the results. 

Here’s the cabinet with the updated paint and spray painted knobs. 

Next was the floors! Now, we originally were not going to do the floors, but Mike told us about the vinyl peel and stick floors they have out now, and when we looked into it, it was barely over $100 for the whole thing! We decided it was worth it to complete the look. Not to mention the bubbling floor we currently had and the creaks we got every time we walked on them…

Installation was easy. We tore out of old floor (which wasn’t even adhered so it was super fast), and then prepped the surface. That took a long time, as I wanted to be meticulous and get a very good stick. We wiped, nailed, dusted and did it over and over again until I was fully satisfied!

Putting it in (including the prep work) took two days total. Honestly, if my floor had been even it would have been a cinch, but the cuts I had to make along the tub took a really long time to get right, and we again had to uninstall the toilet to get it in. Figuring out the transition strip was a little difficult. The two floors were not level, so we couldn’t use glue or tape, and no one had any good ideas, so finally we just nailed them down with the nail gun. There are tiny holes visible, but they aren’t noticeable unless you’re looking for them. 

Time to reveal the bathtub! Our bathtub was in awful awful shape. The main knob had broken off, the ceramic was chipping away and it never ever looked clean, no matter what. The tile was disgusting and the bath had this weird shape that made it seem tiny. 

Bathfitter was amazing! In one day one guy came out and we got a whole new tub. The tile reaches the ceiling, the new fixtures look incredible (in case you’re wondering, that white cylinder is a Berkey water filter), we had them install a curving curtain rod, and the built in soap dispenser and towel rod that were straight out of the 60s were replaced with a corner unit. The accumulation of all those things make the tub seem absolutely huge, the shape doesn’t seem weird anymore, and it stays clean with almost no effort. Best decision we made for the bathroom!

Next we did the mirror and added a shelf! We needed to save money again so we decided to frame our old mirror, and built it ourselves of course. The shelf was an idea I had to hide the gap between the cabinet and the wall. Together with caulking, it makes the unit looks built in and I love it!

This dramatic before and after really shows how much bigger it looks with them on! Pretty amazing transformation if you ask me. We completed the mirror on March 1st, two and a half months before Jacey was born. 

Our light fixture is pretty spectacular, of you ask me. We repurposed the old one and hung it instead, and it’s a focal piece in the room for sure. We took the former light (pictured at top left) that was hanging above the mirror originally (shown top right) and painted it, screwed it to a piece of painted wood, drilled holes for rope, screwed in mason jar lids, added candelabra lights, and screwed on the jars. The whole thing took a few dedicated hours, and it makes a huge difference in the room.

By the way, I hadn’t mentioned that awful towel bar and wall heating unit before. Taking those out was therapeutic, but that wall unit almost shocked Jason, as it showed up on the meter as being dead but was fully wired and alive! Good thing his wire cutters had a rubber handle. That pop was loud ad scary!

Finishing touches by the end of March were getting pipe and designing our own shelves, toilet paper rack and towel rack, and of course trim work. We like the pipes as fixtures quite a lot, as it’s a functional decoration (and those are best kinds). I decorated the shelves with other functional decor, like toilet paper rolls, a basket for epsom salt, soap and other bath items, mason jars of cotton balls and q-tips, and pictures of Everly and Jacey’s first baths. I don’t have a good picture for all the trim work I did, but basically we reused the door trim (newly painted of course), got new frames for the windows since they broke when we took them down, and updated the floors by adding a thick baseboard and quarter round. It’s kind of shocking at the difference good moulding can make!

We also installed new shades for the window, and added some potted plants throughout. So far I’m not having much luck on keeping anything alive in the bathroom, so if you have suggestions for good bathroom shrubbery, let me know! You can see the baseboards and trim a bit in the pictures below too. 

So there you have it! It feels like a completely different room, bright and big and modern, and we absolutely love it. In all it took abut four months total, with the last month being a lot of final touches and less actual construction, two months before pushing out a baby. I am proud of myself!! What’s your favorite part? Let me know what you think! 

Special thanks to Mike Smith for his expertise and help, and for these blogs and pins for the ideas and instructions they provided!

Flooring, pipe fixtures, and all tools purchased from Home Depot.

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