My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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History of my Downstairs Bathroom

When I moved in to my house back in September 2007 the small downstairs bathroom was functional, even though it was ugly. It had a small fiberglass shower, an oak toilet seat and an acrylic shell shaped sink, which wasn't exactly what I would choose for a house over 130 years old.

While I was gutting and remodeling the main part of the house I lived in one of the bedrooms in the side wing and used this bathroom. Although I didn't tackle remodeling the bathroom at that time, I did make some cosmetic changes for around $150 just to freshen things up.

I patched holes in the walls and painted them pale blue. The 1980s oak medicine cabinet and vanity were primed and painted white and a new mirror was hung above the sink. I hunted around at the Ann Arbor ReStore a few times until I found a used sink that I liked and would fit the dimensions of my vanity for only $20. I then replaced the sink faucet, toilet handle, toilet seat and added some hooks, a towel bar and a white waffle weave shower curtain to the bathroom. I finished the room off with some red accents to break up the blue and white, like red towels and vintage reproductions of drawings of red coral. For almost no money it was pretty presentable until I had time to get around to remodeling it.

My bathroom remained like that until January 2010. Over the winter holidays I went to Australia to hang out with some of my friends that I had made during my time living in Japan. Beside me, two people from from England, a girl from France and a girl from Japan had made the trek to visit our Australian friends. We had an awesome time catching up and enjoying traveling around together. 

When I arrived home from my vacation late at night, exhausted from the time change and my long flights, I discovered that my heat had gone out and my pipes were all frozen. Darn Michigan winter! I turned off my water main, slowly warmed up my house and crossed my fingers that the damage to my pipes wouldn't be that bad. Needless to say, despite being exhausted I did not sleep that well that night. 

The main area of the house that had been gutted and fully remodeled with copper pipe faired quite well. I only had to replace my pot filler in the kitchen and one of the shower controls in the master bathroom. I was so relieved that I didn't have to open up any walls.

The downstairs bath was another story. It had PVC pipes and when I turned on the water to that area of the house I could hear water gushing in the walls, which meant major work had to be done. I didn't have time to deal with it then so I just let it sit broken with the water disconnected until the next winter when I decided to tackle it during my time off over the winter holidays. Unfortunately, I never took any photos of the bathroom after the little makeover, but I did grab these two pictures after I had cleared the room before I started opening up walls.

My original plan was just to open up the walls to fix the plumbing. As I got into it, however, I realized that the PVC was smashed to smithereens and other things needed fixing in order to bring the bathroom up to code. I soon realized that I was going to need to pull a permit and demo and redo the whole bathroom. The problem, however, was that due to certain structural areas of the house it was going to be really hard to bring the bathroom up to code. I finished demoing the bathroom so that I could see exactly what I was working with and make a plan to submit to the building department. 

This is where I stalled. I was having trouble getting around how to bring the room completely up to code without raising my roof and honestly it wasn't a super huge priority since I lived alone and my master bathroom was great. So I casually worked on some plans while I let the carcass of the former bathroom sit empty. Now, however, is a different situation. With getting married and Frank moving in this summer, having a second bathroom has now become a priority. I've been working on some plans and am getting ready to finally pull a permit and tackle this downstairs bathroom this summer. Wish me luck!

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Reader Comments (3)

GOOD LUCK. I have never lived through a bathroom remodel. Bathroom renos along with Kitchen renos can be some of the most expensive and from all the home shows I watch, these two rooms are the ones with the biggest surprises. But once you get through the bumps, burps and by-law codes, YOU will turn this bathroom into one that gets pinned & repinned on Pinterest.

Maybe tackle after the wedding ........ :-)

June 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Lou

Mary-Lou- Thank you! I lived through the renovation of my master bathroom which was expensive, but didn't have too many curve balls. This one is a bit of a problem because of the fact the the ceiling slopes down at the rear of the room and doesn't meet code for minimum height. I've done a few things to mitigate the problem, like remove the multiple ceilings they had and determine how much I can drop the floor without having a strange transition from the hallway, but I am still coming up a touch short...

June 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterLisa

Good luck with the bathroom! I am sure it will turn out great.

November 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric

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