Our 1930s bathroom was completely gutted this week, making way for a floor-to-ceiling remodel. While I can’t wait to take a long, hot bath in a brand new Kohler tub that no one else’s bum has been in, this construction phase has been pretty stressful.
Preserving Old House Integrity
Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of Rehab Addict, but my inner Nicole Curtis is freaking out right now. While we picked out new tile and fixtures that I think are pretty timeless and look somewhat close to the originals, I’m convinced we’re doing permanent damage to the integrity of the house. We bought our house because it was old, because we loved the charm. Sometimes it’s a total pain but we’re not “brand-new, modern home” people.
Apparently, our home is built like a brick shit-house: solidly. The bathroom floor was covered in concrete above the joists, the walls covered in steel mesh and concrete. The contractors had a helluva time removing the tile from the walls; whatever the original builders used, it was holding up like superglue 70+ years later. I’m still kind of mad that some yahoo decided to glaze over the tiles instead of resealing them for years of future use. Between the glaze and the tub cracking, we were kind of forced into the remodel. I just hope that the changes we’re making will benefit the house in the long run. It’s been painful to watch otherwise perfectly solid fixtures be torn to pieces.
Bathroom Remodel TrUTHS and Weirdness
At least there were no horrible surprises, such as water damage or mold. But we did find a bird’s nest in the wall. Thankfully, no occupants were home. Oh, and a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball card that I need to give to my dad. The stuff you find in the walls, kids. It’s weird. (But there weren’t any bodies or bugs, so I feel like I’m ahead of the game).
I have another piece of trivia for you: how many full grown men does it take to move a bathtub from the 1920s?
Answer: at least three. Preferably more.
We discovered that our bathtub was a 1928 Kohler model – and it weighed over 1,000 pounds. Between the bend in our stairs and the weight of the tub, there was no way to get it outside without cutting it in half.
Have you ever cut a half-inch-thick piece of cast iron? It takes about three hours, give or take. A break is needed after:
Oh, and one more thing – the previous owners of our house had truly atrocious taste in paint:
A built-in cabinet was covering this gem. If you look closely, toward the very top, you’ll see wallpaper. I can’t even imagine how many coats of primer it took to cover up this dark green paint. I’m just happy that we didn’t have to do it ourselves. Which leads me to…
Things I’ve Learned During Week 1 Of A Bathroom Remodel
- Most furnaces have a release valve. So you don’t actually have to make your husband move all of your basement storage so that it doesn’t get wet when you bleed the radiators. Just hook up a hose and lead it to the nearest drain. (Thank you, father-in-law Dave).
- It takes two men to move a three-foot radiator. (Thank you again, father-in-law Dave and Uncle Matt).
- Radiators are top-heavy. Do not bump them or you will die.
- Dust. Dust will be everywhere. Forever. There’s no use trying to clean it up.
- Don’t forget to put your boots on in the morning when you wake up, or you’ll step on painful bits of plaster, concrete, and wood, and it’ll hurt worse than stepping on a Lego.
- Don’t accidentally go to your under-construction bathroom in the middle of the night to pee. You’ll almost break your neck and the kitchen ceiling simultaneously.
- If you want to have nightmares, look at old insulation and imagine the bugs living in it.
- No matter how loud you think it will be, it will be louder. If you work at home, this will be fun.
- Quality tile doesn’t break when you drop it on your hardwood floors. It will scratch the floor though.
- Demo goes faster than you think, and it’s kind of exciting at the end of the day, even if you’re not allowed near the sledgehammers.
My goal is to keep y’all updated each week, while I try to survive this process. Eventually, I’ll post before and after photos. Stay tuned and wish us luck, please!