Every year the Peace Corps has a video challenge. I’ve never gotten my act together to enter but I was curious to see who won this year. Below is the winning video by Jamieson Cox. It’s a celebration of joy and happiness in Paraguay.
Here are some of the biggest lessons we learned when doing our bathroom renovation. Enjoy, Mari & Paul
Demo & Planning
- Turn off the water to the bathroom and be careful not to nick the pipes when demolishing
- Invest in a reciprocating saw (aka Sawzall), especially if you have a fiberglass tub/surround to cut up
- Wear long sleeves, a mask, and eye protection during demo, again, especially if you are dealing with fiberglass and/or popcorn texture
- Enlist the help of friends!
- You don’t need to use that much thin set/mortar under your backerboard/cementboard
- Mix small batches of thin set/mortar at a time so you don’t waste it (that goes for grout, too) and use warm water to make it easier
- You don’t necessarily need thick board – opt for a 1/4 inch if you can to make install easier
- Predrill the holes in your board if you’re having trouble installing it
- If you are not using a waterproof barrier underneath the board then you should paint a waterproof membrane on top of it (the green stuff)
Tiling the Surround
- Plan out your tile pattern before starting and determine the best placement for your shower niche if you are including one
- If installing a niche – consider buying a plastic one instead of building it yourself and screw it directly into the studs
- Invest in a GOOD tile saw (ours was not and it caused many headaches)
- Keep your area clean and wipe down tiles as you install – don’t wait until later when the mortar hardens
- Wear gloves! I didn’t and my hands suffered for it
Grouting the Surround
- Wear gloves for this part, too!
- Sponge down the tiles as you are grouting, again, don’t wait until later when it will be much more difficult (we know from experience on this one)
- Cure the grout by spraying it with water twice a day for a few days
- Seal after curing – it might take a few passes with the sealer
Tiling the Floor
- Plan our your design and start with the most important/visible area – in our case we wanted to control the look of the tiles abutting the tub
- Clean as you go
- You can reuse spacers as each area dries
- Use knee pads – they really do help!
- Cure and seal as you see fit
Installing the Vanity & Fixtures
- Enlist the help of a professional – in our case we hired a plumber to install the tub and fixtures
- Make sure your vanity and toilet and tub are the correct distance from one another according to code in your area
Installing the Toilet
- Read the manual for installing your toilet ahead of time
- If you opt for an apron type toilet (see above) know that it will be a more challenging install
- Invest in a GOOD diamond bit to drill through your tile – we broke several economy diamond bits and would have been better served with buying the expensive one off the bat
We’re finally done with renovating the bathroom! We did everything but the plumbing ourselves (and even then Paul and his dad had to pitch in). That included ALL of the tiling – the new shower/tub surround in addition to the floor.
I have a newfound appreciation for any person who has ever tiled anything – who knew a shower niche would take so much time and energy and that I would literally lose the skin on my hands while laying tile.
Some of my favorite parts of the new bathroom are:
- The hex floors
- The Delta shower and tub faucets (partially obscured by the blue whale in the photos)
- The metal bead on the shower niche (that was the easy part)
- The beautiful handmade wooden stool gifted to us from our realtor
- The Joe Hill poster and the Jane Mount Ideal Bookshelf 364 print
Enjoy & Happy Renovating!
We’ve been hard at work getting the new house in shape and it’s coming along little by little. The first room we have finished is Brook’s room. Below you can see more before and after pics as well as additional detail shots. She loves her new room including her two closets – one for clothes and one for playing in! Pics of the play closet coming soon.
I had so much fun making this room into a special place. I especially love:
- The awesome frames wallpaper we bought here.
- The chevron blackout curtains we bought here.
- The cascading metallic circles that I made with silver contact paper cut out with 1.25″ and 2.25″ button punches.
- The black frame on the circles wall, which is actually a mirror that I rescued it from the downstairs bathroom.
- The school desk from the 70s we found at the recycling center.
- The bookcase from my own childhood I transformed with black paint and yellow chevron contact paper.
- The gallery wall with frames we’ve collected through the years, including hand painted ones from Ecuador.
More Detail Shots
My parents got me a dollhouse when I was around 9 years old. I wish I could say I decorated it and played with it for hours on end but the truth is I was never that into it and the only decorations it had were some wallpaper samples on a few walls and one bedroom of Victorian furnishings that came with it.
Recently, I found this old dollhouse in my parent’s basement and decided to take it on as a project. I joked to Paul that I was in the mood to renovate a house so why not start small! As we embark on full-scale renovations of our new house (more details to come) I thought I’d share the after photos of the dollhouse. Unfortunately, since one of my cameras was stolen and my external hard drive broke (don’t ask) I no longer have the before images. Click on the pics above to see larger images.
While Brook is still too young to play with the dollhouse she loves to look at it and name the things she sees. Her favorite thing is the rocking horse probably because she has one in her own room. You’ll notice the dolls are the I Am Elemental action figures from this blog post here. I think they look quite at home!
Some other highlights from the remodel:
- Miniature books I bought from Jo-Ann Fabrics that I covered with some of my favorite children’s books including Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, Matilda, and To Kill a Mockingbird. You’ll see the books all around the house.
- Decorations from board games: Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Scrabble, Bananagrams, Lotería, and jacks.
- Most wallpaper is scrapbook paper from Michaels and most fabric I either had from previous projects or I also bought bandanas from Michaels for $1 each.
- I made the rugs from hand stitching plastic canvas with yarn – took forever but I love the rugs.
- Framed family photos I created by finding digital images of frames, placing family photos into them in Photoshop, printing them at home on our photo printer, and then laminating. I also recreated my favorite calendar, Massimo Vignelli’s Stendig calendar, printed it, laminated it and mounted in the living room.
- I found a few other favorite artworks and paintings online and printed them, as well. You’ll see an image from Cindy Sherman’s Untitled series, a painting from an artist I saw in Quito, one of the portraits from Ellen Heck’s Forty Fridas, a Nikki McClure print, and the same hallway image by Nathan Rohlander that is featured on Modern Family (not pictured). Other images I cut out of magazines and design annuals.
- I made the mobile in the nursery from buttons and I spelled Brooklyn’s name out with alphabet bracelet beads on the wall. I also sewed the beanbag chairs using fabric scraps and a pattern for hacky sacks.
- The two miniature reproduction designer chairs I splurged buying them on eBay: the Eames lounge chair with ottoman as well as the Eames RAR rocking chair. I also got the kitchen set on eBay. The rest of the furniture I either had from the original set (basinet, bed, lamp, side table) or found the rest of the furniture for free.
Now that we’re starting to renovate a full-scale house I’ll be updating the blog with progress. I hope it’s as fun as the dollhouse!
It’s been a while since I’ve been blogging regularly but I still find myself pondering potential posts (say that 10 times fast). One of my resolutions for 2016 is to get back to blogging since having this record of my life and work since 2010 (!) is invaluable. When I talk to someone about something I covered on the blog I can easily reference it with a link or call up the post myself to fill in the details. When I want to reminisce or remember what I was doing at a certain point in time I have this digital record.
Being a diligent writer and recorder was certainly easier before I became a mother but I find that I miss it. Mostly, I miss the way that blogging helps me to digest my experiences to more deeply understand their impact. So, in 2016, I’m carving out the time and space to be the storyteller of my own life again. I hope you’ll continue to be along for the ride.
Happy New Year,