Surprise Bathroom Renovation!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In my last update about the bathroom, I mentioned we were holding off doing any renovations until we had saved up enough money to possibly gut and re-do the whole thing. I also lamented the fact that the old peel-and-stick floor tiles were gross. A very sweet commenter suggested that I just cover those up with more peel-and-stick tiles in the interim. Maybe a fun black and white pattern? You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now that nothing is ever that simple and straightforward. Here was the bathroom last Friday night:

You have to agree that those floor tiles are hideous. They were also peeling up and had a large gap in their placement which was driving me crazy. Before I go into what happened, I'll show you some of my initial bathroom inspirations. First off, my dream bathroom. This would happen if we gutted the entire bathroom and then expanded it, moving the far wall back a couple of feet into the 'hobbit hole'. To illustrate this I've taken some poor quality and embarrassingly messy photos of said 'cave'.

Spoiler alert- I think you now know what happened to my peel and stick tiles (hint- I didn't pick orange ones). Expanding this wall would allow us to create a space to have a freestanding tub under the sloped ceiling and then make a glass shower enclosure where the bathtub is now. I would also imagine this option to be incredibly expensive. Here were my inspiration photos while I was still dreaming:

Top Left 1, 2, 3, 4

Don't they all look amazing! Not to worry I also had a second set of renovation options, just in case adding the tub and shower wasn't in our budget. These inspiration images include refreshing the tile but keeping a similar layout.
Top Left 1, 2, 3, 4
Back to my Saturday morning project. I noticed that the toilet seemed to be leaking. It didn't seem to be leaking that much and since I had debated removing the toilet and sink to stick more tiles down, I thought we could investigate this issue at the same time. So naive...once we removed the toilet we found it had probably been leaking for a long time. 

* On a side note my Mom had an 'I told you so' moment as she had mentioned the toilet may have issues months before due to the constant slight stream of water running down the side of the bowl. She said " this may be an indication of a bigger problem". Bottom line, she was right. If you have a toilet that is doing something like this, as my Mom said, go check it out now. 

The area around the toilet was completed rotted and we had to remove the entire bathroom floor. This turned out to be somewhat of an archaeological dig. After removing the peel-and-stick tile and a layer of rotten plywood, we found this:

Hello old linoleum! You can see the amount of damage around where the toilet was. I also loved seeing that the original bathroom floor matched the old kitchen floor. Too bad it didn't match the bathroom tile at all. We had to remove the floor all the way down to the sub-floor. Please also note our toilet in the bathtub-that was fun.

Luckily, the sub-floor and floor joists were not rotted. They were slightly wet and slightly moldy but only on the surface. We bleached the area and left the fan on overnight. Again, that is the only toilet in our entire house still in the bathtub. The next morning, Chad was super excited to get back to work on my small, quick update.

Here he is laying the new plywood floor and cursing me under his breath. Did I mention that he was scheduled to leave on a business trip that night and wasn't sure if he could re-install the toilet? I was very scared I would be toilet-less for an entire week. After the plywood, he cemented down the 'uncoupling and waterproofing underlayment' ( I don't think that's a word either but that's what Home Depot is telling me this Ditra product is). 

Then Chad thankfully re-installed the toilet (properly this time) and left me with this beautiful bathroom. I think we can call it a day with this one. I mean orange and blue are complimentary colors.

I had always planned on replacing the sink and vanity with a pedestal sink as the room is way too small for such a large piece. I found a great deal on one while we were in Vermont a few months ago, so we already had it waiting in the basement. The old sink had covered some, but not all, of the tile damage. The previous owners had attempted to fix it with paint. I think they did an excellent job, don't you? I mean you can hardly tell what's painted and what's original. You can also see where I scratched some of it off in my earlier investigation of 'what the hell is this?' 

On one hand, this renovation was completely unplanned. On the other, this had been something I was debating since we moved in. The bathroom was the one room in the house that had vintage charm but was functional (unlike the unusable kitchen). Would I be destroying one of the last vestiges of the 1950s by removing the blue tile and replacing it with a boring, basic white tiled modern bathroom simply for resale value? It looks like at least for now, the decision has been made for me. The bathroom is staying blue! I found a few great examples of retro bathrooms to reconfirm my decision:

Top Left 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Up next, the search for replacement vintage blue tile. Retro Renovation is a great resource and a fun browse if you love all things retro. Their guide to finding vintage tile was how I ended up finding a source right here in Montreal. It also lead me to what looks like my dream tile store in New York State- World of Tile

If only I hadn't found a tile that was almost an exact match through the Dal-Tile store in town, I could have convinced Chad to drive 6 hours to experience a place where vintage tile dreams most certainly come true. The only other thing left to do now is to purchase floor tile to complete my new vision.

I wanted something for the floor that would look like it had always been part of the bathroom. I will admit despite all the unplanned work, part of me is excited to finally be able to change the floor and not just slap down another layer of peel-and-stick. I had seen what I now know is called a 'mosaic pinwheel' pattern tile while we were at a big-box store in Vermont at a very reasonable price. Much like in the retro colorful bathroom inspiration picture, this type of tile was historically used in 1950s bathrooms. So now all that's left to do is go on a shopping trip and start tiling!

69 Response to Surprise Bathroom Renovation!

April 20, 2014 at 5:54 AM

So much hard work, but I'm excited to see it finished! Btw, if you haven't taken the trip to Vermont yet, I'm pretty sure I've seen that exact pinwheel tile at the Eco Depot Ceramique store on Taschereau.

[In other news, your bathroom dreams look a lot like mine, except mine(in addition to removing a wall, gutting the actual bathroom, and moving the tub) also include adding a walk-in shower to the upstairs powder room, which is presently showerless. Even with DIY-ing all of the demo and all the finishing, we have yet to get a quote under 20k.]

April 20, 2014 at 6:54 AM

I'm excited to see it finished as well, but not excited to not have a toilet for another 24hours!
Thanks for the tile tip.

April 23, 2014 at 3:11 PM

I'm envious of anyone who has the patience to do their own renos! Good for you.

...and yes! I listed a bunch of stuff before I left! How amusing that you recognized the photo.

April 29, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Thanks Mina,
I barely have the patience and am more of a task master than anything else-god bless Chad! Best of luck in your new home and city.

June 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Cliffhanger!! Now I need to find the post with the reveal, because I caught a glimpse of it on ABM. So happy you kept the blue - it's stunning.

November 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Your dream bathroom may need some extra space to achieve the results you want. Anyway, I’m just glad that Chad was able to finish the job before leaving for his trip, though it’s hard to imagine how you’re gonna spend the whole week with a messy bathroom! Anyway, I’m curious as to how the renovation went. Any updates?

Evon Brow @ Athens Plumbing

February 9, 2015 at 6:51 AM

Wow! It’s amazing how you managed to do all that by just winging it. Anyway, how are things looking so far? I am so excited to see how it turned out!

Roxanne Vaughn @ Total Plumbing

August 21, 2015 at 12:06 AM

I like the design and the colouring of the bathroom. Really a nice attempt and it grabs attention.Thanks for sharing such a nice blog here with us.

August 21, 2015 at 12:11 AM

I like the design and the colouring of the bathroom. Really a nice attempt and it grabs attention. Really wonderful designs of bathroom you have shared here with us to makeover the bathroom.

September 1, 2015 at 6:32 AM

It is really a great idea of renovation..Bathroom is renovated perfectly..This looks beautiful..
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November 11, 2015 at 1:53 AM

My god, that original flooring was hideous! I'd like to congratulate you on replacing your floor with something that is both cool and modern. Having just replaced a kitchen floor for a friend I must say that removing terrible floor styles doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Hopefully the next generation of flooring styles will age better.

Homer Collins @ Pinnacle Renovations

January 20, 2016 at 8:44 PM

I guess I should avoid peel and stick tiles, lol. Right now, I'm in the process of adding wall art to my own bathroom. The peel and stick tiles at certain locations can cause a few problems but they do work well in a jam. The window in your dream bathroom is looking quite good, in terms of letting light in.

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March 1, 2016 at 12:11 AM

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March 14, 2016 at 5:30 AM

Cool blog site friend I'm about to suggest this to all my listing contacts.

March 23, 2016 at 4:24 PM

I can see why you would want to renovate your old bathroom. Replacing your orange floor and blue tiles with vintage blue tile would look so much better. I like the idea of installing black and white floor tiles like the one in the bottom middle picture. That looks like a huge improvement on the orange floor, and it even has blue tile on the walls like what you're going for to keep the vintage vibe.

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August 22, 2016 at 2:37 AM

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August 31, 2016 at 4:42 AM

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for sharing the pictures of your bathroom remodeling project!! I like all the colorful bathroom retro bathrroms.

So much hard work, but I'm excited to see it finished! I think remodel a bathroom is a huge project and we can't achieve success without taking help from a trusted remodeling contractor.

I also refer your mentioned guide of vintage tiles, it really helpful for me. I choose this option because I want to give a unique look to my simple old bathroom.

Glad that I found your post :)


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