Posts Tagged ‘bathroom’

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Hey, look—grout! (And tiles!)

May 16, 2009

Took way too long, but we finally have tiles that pretty much match, and grout and caulking to seal the deal. We spent about six weeks looking for tiles that were indistinguishable from the existing tiles—finally found them at Lowe’s after one of the local tile stores guessed that our chunk of sample tile might be a Dal-Tile color. As it turns out, it’s American Olean, which seems to be pretty exclusively available at the big box stores, but that’s made by Dal-Tile, so not a bad guess. Unfortunately the nearest Lowe’s is in Union City, so it took a while to finally make it out there….luckily they had eight tiles left of this color and size buried on the back of a shelf. We bought all the ones that weren’t chipped, just in case we have to do anything else on this in the future. (The new tiles are the four touching the valve; everything else is old.)

When I finished grouting, I also used a whitener that our hardware store recommended on the old grout to try to get a close match. It still needs to be sealed, but it’s looking pretty good overall. The only big issue has been that our original tiling was done pretty terribly, so lots of tiles aren’t lined up or flush. The funny part is that I never noticed this before, but once we started working with the tile, it became pretty evident, and now I see it every time I look at it. Argh. (D.’s decided that he wants to rip this all out—that would be at some future date after we win the lottery—and retile it with a clawfoot bathtub to fix the look. We’ll see. On the upside? or downside? that means I’m not doing the floor anytime soon, since it’s silly to do it for aesthetic reasons if we might realistically replace the tub at some point.)

New valve and tile

New valve and tile

….and speaking of doing something else on this in the future, it turns out that the nice round plastic piece is supposed to be behind the tile, not in front of it. I’m not sure if this is a problem with our plumber or the depth of our wall and valve, but the end result is that the valve trim that finally came in the mail last week doesn’t fit on the valve. Augh. There’s about a half-inch gap between the escutcheon and the wall. So now we have to figure out a solution to this that hopefully doesn’t involve knocking out the tile and reinstalling the valve.

*sigh*

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Fixtures for bungalow bathrooms

March 31, 2009

So, we now have a new shower valve (though still no new tile!) As it turns out, though, we also need a new tub faucet (or at least parts for a faucet, but I’m just going to suck it up and buy a new one so that the fixtures match, because even old chrome and new chrome look awful right now!) That pesky leak wasn’t fixed by $400 worth of plumbing parts and labor, sadly, and now seems to be the fault of a bad faucet diverter.

That brings me to….trim decision making. We got a cheap-o valve trim from the plumbing place over the weekend so we’d be able to use the shower in the interim, but now that I need to go faucet hunting, I’m revisiting the trim choice. Might as well make it all match. (Incidentally, the cheap trim was under $30, which I’ve discovered was a mighty fine deal, even up against eBay—props to the independent retailers!)

Here’s what I’d ideally like, leaving aside for the moment the fact that we missed a golden opportunity to replace our shower valve with something other than the generic single handle valve—ah, well. What’s done is done. (Though it reminds me of a friend’s recommendation—do a little research on all of the pieces of your house even if you have no plans to replace them, so that if you have to replace something unexpectedly, you know roughly what it is you want and don’t buy the easiest thing that lands in your hand!)

The trim must be:

  • Compatible with Kohler’s Rite-Temp single-handle shower valve
  • Somewhat vaguely period appropriate for a 1915 bathroom (flexible, given that we don’t have the clawfoot tub or anything)
  • Either polished nickel (ideal) or polished chrome (second best)

Here are a few options I’ve found so far:

Margaux

Margaux

Antique

Antique

Memoirs

Memoirs

Finial

Finial

Bancroft

Bancroft

Pinstripe

Pinstripe

Any of these can be had in a variety of finishes; some are way too expensive—the “Antique” one would eat up the entire project budget at list price!—but for right now I’m just trying to settle on a few that would be workable. Who knows what deals may lie in the depths of EBay, after all. I’ve also decided not to stress about matching the style of the pedestal sink faucet in any way, though for what it’s worth, I plan to use a traditional faucet with cross handles, either with porcelain handles or just porcelain buttons.

Sadly, I’m just not in love with any of these—and am really hoping it wasn’t a mistake to go with the Kohler valve. If we’d had a little more time to plan, it would have been great to put in the three-handled Sign of the Crab shower valve, for instance. (The only other option at our local store was Grohe, though, which was even more expensive.)

What would you put in a bungalow bathroom?

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One waterless weekend later: the tub is fixed!

February 9, 2009

It’s official: our leaky tub (that would be Resolution #6) is finally fixed, thanks mostly to D., who decided to tackle this project this weekend. Par for the course for our house, though, this little fix turned into a big adventure. Here’s what we’ve learned this weekend:

  1. Fixing things in an old house is never as easy as the Interweb says it’s going to be.
  2. Shut-off valves are good things. We should probably get some. (We do have a main shut-off for the house….but it turns out that’s the only shut-off valve our old house has! This becomes a problem if, say, you inadvertently break a pipe and it can’t be fixed for two days. Hypothetically speaking, of course.)
  3. Never force a valve that won’t turn.
  4. We should have an earthquake kit, because then we would also have extra water floating around for non-earthquake emergencies.
  5. We have awesome neighbors! (Okay, actually we knew that part already, but they further proved their awesomeness when one set of neighbors let us use their shower for the weekend, another loaned D. tools to try to do the repair himself, and a third came over on a Sunday afternoon and fixed said broken pipe for us….so there will definitely be a neighbor dinner forthcoming!)

Household tools
Incidentally, this brings up another big question: what are the right tools to have in your household toolkit? When we moved in, we had the basics, and pretty much everything we’ve acquired since then has been due to some emergency project or another. This weekend’s chaos promises to get us some Channellocks. So now we have:

  • Drill and related bits
  • Hacksaw
  • Wrenches (adjustable, Allen, socket, Hex, standard, pipe)
  • Screwdrivers of various sizes (Phillips, flathead, Torx)
  • Pliers (needlenose and standard)
  • Files
  • Planer
  • Cable cutter
  • Telescoping ladder
  • Step ladder
  • Putty knives and paint scrapers
  • Wire stripper/cutter
  • Stud finder and level
  • Hammers
  • Channellocks (soon!)

What else do we need to avoid emergency runs to Ace when the water’s coming out of the wall or the plaster is crumbling? (Bear in mind that we have the phenomenal Temescal Tool Lending Library, part of the Oakland Public Library system, just a short hop away, so we can get most specialty non-emergency-related tools there, with the sad exception of the Silent Paint Remover, which I really-really-really want but can’t really justify the cost of…..plus, stripping the dining room woodwork doesn’t count as an “emergency” exactly.)

At any rate, it’s only February and one of nine resolutions is under our belt—not half bad!

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The Bathroom

August 13, 2008
Like the kitchen, the bathroom is no longer original but is still not too far out of touch with the Arts & Crafts period. The built-in cabinets could use some better hardware, but are pretty handy—we think they were added sometime in the 1940s or 1950s, possibly by the same cabinetmaker who built the kitchen cabinets. (They’re similar in style, though the bathroom drawer bottoms are old-school particle board while the kitchen drawer boxes are solid wood.) Apparently the grill in the bottom cabinet would originally have provided covered ventilation for the plumbing, but now it’s just an empty box.
Bathroom view from the hall

Bathroom view from the hall

Someday (hopefully someday soon!) we’ll replace the not-so-hot chrome and gold fixtures and plastic shelf with something a little classier. Right now I’m thinking an inset medicine cabinet like this one and a wall-mount soap dish like this one, though we haven’t quite figured out light fixtures and other hardware yet. Like the kitchen, though, everything in the bathroom is perfectly functional, and the tub, toilet, and sink were all replaced in ’97 so everything in this room is cosmetic.

Bathroom fixtures

Bathroom fixtures

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