My Vacation – 2012 Edition

Today is the last day of my vacation.  Around here vacation time is not for relaxing or travelling.  Two weeks with no childcare schedule or programming.  Two weeks without young children in my home. Vacation time is when we tackle those big projects that can’t be completed in a weekend.

So, what did we do this year you ask?  First I’ll give you a little history.

We’ve lived in this 100 year old house for 16 years.  It is relatively small – 1040 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It was in rough shape when we moved in but over the years we’ve fixed floors and shingles.  We’ve had new windows, doors and a furnace installed.  We’ve painted, built cupboards, put on siding and done many landscaping projects. The bathrooms have been on the ‘project list’ since the beginning but we keep putting them off.

The basement bathroom gets the most use.  It is dark and dingy.  It has an ugly plastic shower stall that leaks but it works.  It is permanently dirty – stained — cleaning seems pointless.  Upstairs the vinyl floor is cracked and buckled and there are pieces missing.  The bathtub finish is rough and uncomfortable – I never use the bathtub but some of my sons do.  The plaster walls are ugly and the paint is bad.  Both the floor and the paint are yellowish from age – I hope.

The dilemma was which bathroom to attempt first.  I want to replace the plastic shower in the basement with a tile one but I’ve never installed tiles before.  What if we encounter issues and the project takes longer than two weeks to complete? The daycare children use the basement bathroom and although I could let them use the upstairs bathroom temporarily I didn’t really want to.  So, even though it doesn’t get much use, the upstairs bathroom would be this year’s vacation project – the ‘practice’ project.

Of course I didn’t remember to take a ‘before’ picture because we started demolition as soon as my ‘vacation’ began.  I think my husband and I make a good team for these projects because we have different skills.  I’m more into details – the plans, the lists, and the finish work.  My husband is better at the loud, messy stuff – and I rely on him to use those scary power tools.  (shudder)

We have different methods of working too.  Even when he doesn’t need assistance he likes to have someone (me) nearby so he can ‘vent’ – I ‘help’ by ‘listening’.  There’s always a sense of urgency when he is working. Sometimes I offer suggestions and he retorts ‘Do you want to do this?’  I prefer to work independently – slowly and methodically – analyzing and pausing often to reflect on the progress.  My husband helps by pacing and ‘encouraging’ me to stay on task.

In the last week I spent a lot of time here;

I wasn’t sleeping in the bathtub (although it is comfy enough that I could have); the sheets and quilt are there to protect the new tub from paint, caulking and grout.

Tiling was something new for both of us so there was a lot of trial and error and many trips to the store.  I discovered that there are special tile nippers for glass tiles – the ones I was using worked but they left tiny little shards of glass on the floor.  The slivers of glass were easier to find if you just followed the trail – took me a while to figure out what those red streaks were, I felt no pain.

The walls are painted ‘Liberty Gray’ to match the lighter parts of the wall tiles.  It is a shade of blue but I had a mild anxiety attack when I first opened the paint can – it looked purple (mauve). I don’t like purple and I detest pink and red.  I usually stick to earth tones so even blue is unusual for me but I’m really happy with this color scheme.

Overall it was a slow process – not as physically demanding as some of our projects but there were so many steps and periods of waiting for caulking/grout/paint to dry.  Two weeks of time and a $1500 budget and the upstairs bathroom is now complete.  I need to find/buy some towels that match.

It functions well but we don’t use it.  I often turn on the light and stand in the doorway to look at it – like a piece of artwork.  We use the bathroom in the basement so we don’t get the new one dirty. 🙂