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Nearly Done! Our Bathroom and Laundry Renovations

Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2014 in: Nerd Life

“What?!” I hear some of you cry. “You’re still not finished?”
No, we are not. I wonder if we are achieving some kind of record for the longest bathroom and laundry renovations. (You can see some of our before pics here, if you haven't already). We started gutting in March… it is now July. Three months is a while to go without a washing machine.

I have had readers ask me how we have made do without a laundry and a bathroom for so long. Well, with the laundry… I have no shame… I paid my mum to do it.

Even Nala is disappointed in me.

Yes, I know this is terrible. But honestly, I noticed that in a way this made my mum happy only because it meant for three months I was wearing ironed clothes. I don’t iron. (Really? I hadn’t noticed, I hear some of my less-rumpled looking friends say sarcastically). And my mum HATES that I don’t iron. I couldn't care less, but she finds it embarrassing, especially at family dinners. No, we are far from uppity Gilmore Girls-style Friday night dinners, she just thinks it is “a disgrace”, and tells me often.

I am not even lying, after I wrote this, today Mum and I grabbed coffee and I was telling her how some people had come up to me and asked, “Are you Maya from House Nerd?” and I was like, “Oh my god!” and Mum just sipped her coffee, rolled her eyes and said, “Yes well now people are starting to know who you are in public, you should take more pride in ironing your clothes so they don't think you are homeless.” Ah she's a funny one. Everyone who reads House Nerd knows I live in a house. 

ABOVE LEFT: Mr Nerd installing our shower screen. ABOVE RIGHT: Me grouting on a hot Friday night. But actually afterward we went to dinner at the new house of our friends Cat and Chris, and that was fun. 

Do you remember what our 1970s laundry looked like before we started work? 

ABOVE: The laundry now - still needs splashback tiling, paint, some shelving and finishing touches, and new door to come! But now we have a benchtop... and STORAGE! You have no idea how fun it was to arrange all our cleaning products into those cupboards. (LOTS of fun). 

ABOVE: It is so nice to have a laundry benchtop!

The lack of bathroom didn’t matter as much as the lack of laundry, because I just temporarily moved into the tiny ensuite. See, before Mr Nerd always used the ensuite, I used the main bathroom, because I bagsed it first, it was nicer, and I liked the bigger benchtop space. Our idea was that we’d renovate the ensuite for Mr Nerd, the way he wants it, then the family bathroom for me, to my taste (that’s why there is a girly light that looks like a star). But now I have decided I quite like the ease of showering in the ensuite. It means I don’t have to run through the house from the bathroom to our bedroom in a towel, or nekkid.

“I think I might just keep using the ensuite for my showering, and just use the other bathroom for putting on my makeup and having candlelit baths,” I said to Mr Nerd recently over breakfast.
He looked upset. “No no no. As soon as your bathroom is ready, you are moving OUT of my bathroom. You've filled the whole cupboard with your products.”
“But I like using the ensuite now.”
“I don’t care. And you leave hair everywhere.”
“I’m going to use it anyway.”
“I’m going to put a lock on the door.”

Mr Nerd does not like to share things with me when he can help it. To give you an idea of how he truly is, he did the grocery shopping a little while ago, and when he got home I rifled through the bags the way a crazy-eyed cat tears through mounds of wrapping paper on Christmas Day. “Aww, you bought the orange juice without the pulp,” I said, disappointed. “I only drink the kind with pulp.”
Mr Nerd smiled as he poured himself a tall glass. “I know,” he said. “That’s why I bought it.”
What kind of person does this?

Bit by bit, all the tasks have been getting done. I spent a very exciting Sunday afternoon painting the door frames in a glossy Dulux Superenamel in Vivid White.

ABOVE: The encaustic tiles on the bathroom floor.

Work in progress!

Step 872 of Bathroom and Laundry Renovating: Prise old wall plugs from the brickwork and putty up with SIKA Kitchen and Bathroom Fine Surface Filler. 

Trying out Dulux paint samples.

So why has all our bathroom and laundry renovating taken so long, you ask? Well, Mr Nerd and I argued a lot about how the bathroom should look (yes, surprisingly). We were busy with work and other vague things going on like the desperate need to suddenly do a Survivor or True Detective marathon. Sometimes there seemed like more fun things to do than gut tile, screed a floor or scrape plaster off the walls. And also because we chose to project manage the renovations ourselves and do what we could DIY… and to be honest, we were terribly disorganised. Time-wise, everything blew out, and there were problems.

I don’t mean to sound like a massive whinger, because we chose to renovate, and we chose to project manage it ourselves.

But many times, like when I was hauling the 48th bucket of rubble from the laundry or the bathroom, or stubbing my toe on the piles of renovating junk that sat around the house for months gathering dust, there were moments when I wished we had just hired a company to do the renovations for us. Just to do all the labour and get it all done and dusted in a reasonable time frame without us having to worry about it. I came across the details of The Kitchen Place online and started to swoon over their photos. They have a team of designers for laundry, bathroom and kitchen renovations and can cover everything from design to installation. Spokesperson Peter Tredinnick says it is the sort of service that takes the stress out of your own (grout-covered) hands. “The Kitchen Place is one of Melbourne's most experienced, expert companies when it comes to kitchen, bathroom and laundry renovations," he says. "Delivering minimalist contemporary designs to cosy French provincial kitchens, whatever your needs, we can bring your vision to life with expertise, creativity and professionalism." Alas, they are based in Melbourne, not Perth. But a nerd can dream!

Our bathroom renovation was more problematic than the laundry was. As you know from my previous post, it went from being a fairly inexpensive, predominantly cosmetic makeover to a full gut and redo. We had planned to reuse the existing old tile, but that plan quickly went out of the window when we found out what bad condition the old tiles were in.

We discovered that the walls were out, which I don't mind, but it made our tiler unhappy.

The encaustic tiles I saved up for and ordered from over east had been roughly handled during the freight and many arrived crumbling and cracked. The supplier kindly replaced them when I told her.

We wanted to reuse the old original bath, but it was badly rusted and damaged on the bottom and would need to be re-enameled, which would cost more than buying a new bath. (The old bath and the old vanity went to a salvage yard).

It turned out that the original bath was such a millimetre-snug fit that it was placed in the room when the walls were just brick and the plaster was done AROUND the bath. It was not that easy to find a new (steel) bath that could be wedged perfectly into our small room!

The bathroom sink was a drama in itself.

The vanity installer kid installed the cupboard and benchtop, then glued the sink too close to the wall to fit the tiles in. “I’ll make sure I leave enough room for the splashback tile and for the glue,” he assured me. But I guess what he didn’t account for was that the sides of the above counter sink were ever so slightly concave. So later, we realised in horror that you couldn’t even fit a single tile properly behind the basin, let alone tile glue.

And the sink COULD NOT be removed… I tried for hours to scrape off the silicon and industrial strength glue with all different kinds of blades and all different kinds of solvents. No luck. Plus try to break the sink off physically (and we did try) and we ran the risk of cracking the $800 custom-cut Caesarstone benchtop, my love and joy.

Oh, I totally styled our unfinished bathroom a little for the night we had visitors to stay.

In the end, the solution was to cut the splashback tile around the sink – and to add more glue to bring the tile out from the wall. But it just doesn’t look the best - even with Mr Nerd’s impeccable silicone.

Never mind… the installer was just a kid (he sort of reminded us of Jay Baruchel, only he didn’t say anything funny) and everyone makes mistakes. But it was just so frustrating and completely brought our energy down. Word to the wise – glue your above-counter sink in AFTER you tile the splashback if you want a perfect fit!

But all the time and frustrations aside, we’re happy now. Even though we still have the last bits to go, we have a working laundry again – and having a benchtop in the laundry is amazing! Having to live in renovation mess for ages (the washing machine and dryer actually sat in my home office for months) means that when you finally get your renovated room, you damn well appreciate it.

Although I still have to paint the walls and do some tiny finishing touches.… I tried the bathtub for the first time the other night and oh. My. God. It was a freezing winter night, I’d just taken Nala for a run, I lit candles (I am unashamedly a candle person) and filled the bath - it felt like heaven. Worth all the hassle, the time, the stress! It was amazing. 

It is also exceptionally nice not having to share a toilet with Mr Nerd anymore.

Before and 'now'. Still needs paint and a new doorknob and some tiny touches. You can read my post on how I made our reclaimed wood toilet shelves here (they have been very useful!)

I also have DIY plans for the toilet that involve this old French dictionary... hopefully I can convince the husband, or wait for a day when he's at work all day long.

What do you think about renovating – is it always worth it? Do you have moments where you wish you’d never started? Are you super-organised about renovating or do you tend to, erm, 'freestyle' it? Do you prefer to project manage, DIY and hire tradies - or would you rather pay someone to do the whole thing from start to finish? Maya x