Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Behold: A Thing of Beauty

What? Not exactly what you were expecting? So, no, this tankless water heater isn't specifically a garden-related item, but it partially does explain my absence from my blog. And it does explain my new desire to hug shiny metal objects.

After hating our bathroom for many years, the husband and I decided the moment was nigh to do something about it. Everything in the bathroom, as in much of the house, is made of the cheapest, most mismatched materials the previous owners could find.

We'd done tons of house repairs/improvements since my husband bought the 90-year-old house 10 years ago--installed central air and heat, hardwood floors, new foundation, new porch; tiled the kitchen floor that has previously been covered in carpet (!); painted every room, painted the kitchen cabinets, replaced the stove and toilet, and built new wooden window screens and a new shed. I'm sure I'm forgetting something but I do want to point out that we crazily did much of this work ourselves.

It's no wonder we ran out of steam (no pun intended) before we'd tackled the bathroom. But we'd gradually become aware that many tiles in the shower weren't actually supported by anything behind them. Crappy grout held them in place. Then there was the plumbing issue. We'd never had anything nearing decent water pressure or hot water.

So in November we finally decided to tackle the bathroom, starting first with the shower.

First up, was a new window to replace the ugly crappy one we had. Of course, we found the window had stayed put through the grace of God. Anyone with any building experience--or common sense--would realize that the window needed some framing that actually attached it to the house. We replaced it with this beauty that's twice as wide, lets in lots of morning light, and actually has structural support: Next up was tearing out the old shower tile and replacing it with shiny new tile. Along the way we found a few friends that had made themselves as home in the walls like these salamander eggs: We hired a plumber to install the beauty at the top of this post and to redo the plumbing in the shower.Of course, as always happens on projects in our house, the scale grew. The plumber said that we had the most interesting assortment of pipes he'd ever seen in his 20+ years of plumbing. Lucky us.

So we agreed to replace the entire mish mash of galvanized, copper, and two kinds of PVC pipe in various sizes.

And then, just when we thought we had expanded the plumbing project as far as it could go, the plumber discovered that the pipe coming in from the street was narrower than recommended. If we didn't replace it, the rest of the plumbing upgrades would be moot. That's how we ended up with this:
In the end, the shower turned out beautifully. I could stand in it, under its glorious water pressure with limitless hot water, for the rest of my life.The next step is replacing all the drywall in the rest of the bathroom. In case you're eyes have glazed over, and you're wondering what the heck any of this has to do with gardening, behold what was behind the old drywall:This is either a)some old wallpaper, b)some sort of insulation, or c) some leftover crap the previous owners decided needed to be included.

I vote for c.

I kind of like this lily pad paper but don't think it's worth saving. We've replaced the old drywall with modern water- and mold-resistant drywall. Bathed in the morning light of the new window, its green hue makes the entire bathroom glow like a gardener's version of Avatar.Eventually we'll add beadboard to the bottom of the wall, paint the upper portion some shade of blue, and install a new door, vanity, sink, and lights. I'm hoping "eventually" means "before I give birth" but given how so many of our house projects proceed, I am hoping that it will be done before the child graduates from high school.

I did have a second thing of beauty to share with you, but I'll save it for a later post. This one is long enough already.


  1. Woohoo, I love me that new bathroom! I'm all over that tankless water heater and sending lots of envy your way. Good girl for getting that wonderful shower in place first. It's nice that you posted again, I've missed you.

  2. Oh I'm jealous too! For various reasons, not the least of which is our water heater is too small, we've been discussing going tankless when we redo the bathrooms. I can't wait! Your bathroom now looks wonderful! The window was a bit horrifying though...that's the problem with remodels, you never quite know what's really behind the walls until you open them up! The salamander eggs must have been quite a surprise!

  3. Wow - that's a lot of work. Reminds me of remodeling houses -- always some other hidden nightmare behind every corner you turn!

  4. It's not the salamanders inside the walls that would give me pause, Vertie -it's knowing they have to be eating something else!

    So the tankless water heater did well through all this cold weather? It all looks beautiful and I love the strip of colored tiles on the plain background.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. Ah yes, I was wondering if you would have to replace the pipe to the street... No diameter, no pressure.

  6. LOVE the new bathroom! I especially love those blue tile details in the shower. :D

    And WOW, you guys replaced the foundation? Impressive. I'd run screaming into the night.

  7. Slow gardening seasons are always good for remodeling projects!

  8. I'm so excited for y'all! And I'm happy to hear about the tankless water heater because we're considering one too. The tile is just beautiful--love the accent!

  9. Great job! How exciting for you. I've dreamed of a new bathroom but after tackling the tile in our kitchen, I don't think I'll try it again. I'm glad you got good water pressure. That makes so much difference in the pleasure of a hot shower.

  10. I love your new tile! A remodeled bathroom is an improvement you'll enjoy every day.

  11. Best of luck in getting it all done before the Sprout arrives. The tile is lovely and I'm so impressed by that tankless water heater.

  12. There you are! I've missed hearing about my fave city (want to trade? I'm in Montreal) and wondered what you were up to. Glad to see you've weathered that reno - and those salamander eggs would have had me running! - so you can now really enjoy that new bathroom :)

  13. Wow, I love it! And I'm glad you let someone help you this time. After my own round of DIY house fixes, mishmash pipes, etc. is enough to make you climb in a shower and never come out. Can't wait to hear the rest of the fun. And you got some "free" garden aeration out of it too! Oh, and you won't have to prune the water heater.

  14. Wow, what a story and when all is done what a bathroom! Smart move on the water heater. we have one and it's great. Salamander eggs- what a surprise. Much better than fire ants or a bees nest. We had ants in our wall once- trillions of them. Those projects always come with extra expenses-at least you could dig a trench. As to gardening- nothing to be done in this weather.

  15. Hey,

    I've given you one of the Sunshine Awards that's been making the rounds, you can read about it on my blog:

  16. Wow its too good and the pictures are just awesome.Its really a beauty.

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