Bathroom beautification

March 30, 2009

Okay, so the last thing I really need to be doing right now is spending money on a facelift for our bathroom, given that it’s mostly operational and I have a bazillion other projects running right now.

But. Then I found out that Rejuvenation Hardware is discontinuing the bathroom set I’ve been eyeing! And it’s on clearance! And perhaps most astoundingly, my favorite piece from it, the toothbrush and cup holder they discontinued a couple of years back, has miraculously reappeared on the website! And to top it all off, Van Dyke’s, where I’d planned to get the medicine cabinet (since I can’t quite swing shelling out $500 for the beautiful one Rejuvenation sells) is also having a sale!

And then I got a call from D. while I was out and about yesterday afternoon. “Good news!” he exclaimed. “You know that ugly shower faucet you wanted to replace? Well, you can pick out whichever one you want now. Because the one we have is sort of, umm, broken.” Broken? But not like last time—we still have running water, right? “Umm, that depends on how you define ‘running’….”

Yeah. So, we’re renovating the bathroom—or at least doing a little mini-renovation (and relying on the front garden hose until the plumber gets here!) Our bathroom’s actually in pretty decent shape, aside from the now-broken shower valve and the very 80’s decor. So there’s thankfully not all that much to do with it.

Cup and toothbrush holder---already headed our way!

Cup and toothbrush holder---already headed our way!

The plan is:

  • Replace shower faucet and valve
  • Replace tile that has to be removed to replace shower faucet and valve
  • Remove existing mildewy caulking and re-caulk the tub
  • Replace missing moulding on wall
  • Install recessed medicine cabinet
  • Install hooks, toothbrush and cup holder, toilet paper holder, shelves, and soap dish
  • Replace pulls on built-in
  • Rewire and replace wall sconces
  • Replace sink faucet
  • Replace cover plates, since they don’t match right now
  • Install curtain rod and remove blinds
  • Insulate window

…and try to do it all for under $1,000. Update, Day 2: With the $400 bill in for the new shower valve, it’s abundantly clear that this project isn’t possible on the original budget. We’ll up it to $1,500 and see how that pans out. The worst part about the new shower valve? The faucet still leaks!! On the upside, since we’ve replaced virtually everything at this point, it’s pretty clear that the problem is a faulty faucet diverter. So I guess we’re getting a new one of those, too (or at least a new washer, if that solves the problem). Also on the upside, the tub is now plumbed all in copper, so we’re making progress (very good progress, actually, if you consider that we only have water running to the tub, the bathroom sink, and the kitchen sink!) on getting everything onto copper pipes.

That will leave the only two major projects there, re-tiling the floor (and replacing the MDF moulding and adding beadboard between the moulding strips)—please let us be lucky and still have hex tile under the current raised layer of tile!—and replacing the toilet. We’ll save those for another year, since what’s there is functional.

Bathroom view from the hall

Bathroom view from the hall---doesn't look too bad from here!

Bathroom fixtures

Bathroom fixtures---these all have to go. (I didn't think to snap the shower pre-disaster, sadly.)

We’re already hitting some obstacles:

  • So Moran Supply on 40th Street hooked us up with a new valve in short order, but they only stock the basic fixtures and need a couple weeks’ lead time on anything else, so I couldn’t take the opportunity to upgrade our shower fixtures to something a little more period appropriate. Probably not the end of the world given that the basic set is only $30 and every other option is much, MUCH more than that—but it would have been nice! We did spring for the Kohler valve, though, which in theory should give us a nice selection of fixtures in the future if we do upgrade.
  • Also, the kind of valve D. really wanted—one that would control both volume and temperature—is apparently not to code in California. (“You must be from out East, huh,” the plumber laughed when I asked. “We don’t deal with that nonsense here!”) Bleh. We can apparently add a second handle to control volume (or get a way-too-expensive combination handle with a lever)  and maybe we will someday—but that’s too much plumbing work to worry about right now.
  • Apparently it is all but impossible to match white tile perfectly, even tile that isn’t all that old. (I think ours was installed about twelve years ago.) Everybody makes a 6″ x 6″ matte white tile….but everybody makes it slightly differently. Augh. So far, no luck at the local tile makers and distributors, one of whom suggested designing an interesting pattern to fill the space instead. We’ll see.
  • There’s no way to know what’s behind the wall over the sink, where I want to put the recessed medicine cabinet, until we knock it out. Hopefully no one’s tried to route anything back there in the years since the original cabinet came out. Luckily, we can at least see the vague outline of it where they patched the plaster, so I’m hopeful.
  • And last but not least, D. and I are still debating whether the toothbrush holder must absolutely hang over the sink to allow the brushes to drip, which limits the available space since the electrical outlet is there too (and, after $100+ to rewire it last year, it isn’t moving!) And I’d like the towel ring and the toothbrush holder to be somewhat symmetrical, which complicates it further.

But at least it’s a start, and we can tackle these step by step (once the water’s back on, that is!) And when we finish, we’ll have an Arts and Crafts bathroom, more or less! Yay.



  1. Hope you can get your project done with your tight budget.

  2. So do we! We do have some flexibility if we delay a few other projects—this is the challenge of having multiple projects running concurrently—but it’s hard to justify spending too much more than that on this room given that everything is basically functional, while some other areas of the house need some help on that front….

  3. We found some great medicine cabinets on ebay…there are a couple craftsmen that list them on there. It was a lot less expensive than rejuvination and very high quality…they also will build to your specs…we were very happy with the quality. Good luck.

  4. Thanks Dee—I’ve poked around on EBay and seen a few there as well, so I’ll have to check them out again. Do you have any specific recommendations? The Van Dyke’s version is $149, which seems reasonable too. (I’m still kicking myself for not buying it when it was on sale for $105 last fall, though! At the time I was trying to avoid collecting things for projects that were theoretically years away….ah, well.)

  5. Why don’t you just ask to see a manager at Van Dyke’s, explain that you saw the medicine cabinet on sale for $105 last fall, and ask if they would offer you that price now? In this economy, they probably will say yes. And do it tomorrow, before the sales tax hike goes into effect!

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