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Real Life : Renovating the One Bath in A One Bath Home

Marble Subway Tile When I first thought about beginning the ‘Real Life’ series, I thought it would be pretty funny to share the not-so-blogworthy BTS moments. This year one of my goals, per your request, was to be as open and realistic as possible… the good, the bad, and the ugly. After all, that’s how renovating and life go, so why not struggle through it and laugh together. Well folks, this is the ugly. In case you missed the first post in this series, find it here. Otherwise brace yourself for a real-life story on what it’s like to renovate the one and only bathroom in a home. 

I sort of wanted to wait to share this post until after the bathroom was totally finished, spotless, and looking exactly like my vision, but part of me figured what the heck… might as well share the “fun” in real time. You’ll also get a sneak peek of the tile.

Renovating After wrapping up his previous job and cross country commute to/from Indiana, Emmett started searching for a new full-time job here in Salt Lake. We had planned to renovate the entire bathroom, had everything on hand for the project, but weren’t quite sure about timing. We have a bajillion house projects and deadlines happening, so the bath was temporarily put on hold. I figured we’d get to it in the fall once things slow down. Plus, it was one of those projects we were dreading because we only have one bath in our home. We knew we’d have to rough it for a couple weeks.

I came home from a client meeting one day in April to find the entire bath demoed. I sort of assumed that meant the bath project was underway- surprise! Emmett found a great job and had two weeks prior to his start date, so that meant doing the bathroom in a fast and furious sort of manner… at least we thought. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about renovating in the past five or six years, it’s always to expect the unexpected. Things don’t always go as planned and this bathroom is no exception. Here we are six weeks after the bathroom demo day and the space is still incomplete. We’ve enountered one hiccup after another.

Bathroom Renovation To start, after ripping up the original linoleum, we found a rotten subfloor. Fun times. Emmett removed the entire subfloor and built a new one. The same went for the studs after tearing out the drywall… totally rotten. Every single piece of lumber had to be replaced. Next, he investigated the plumbing situation. As expected, the pipes and joints were not in great condition. Once again… allllll of the outdated plumbing had to go. At one point, we had a car jack under our house holding up the main sewer line to prevent it from collapsing. Again, super fun stuff happening in the crawl space. It’s the kind of junk that nobody sees, but it has to be addressed and corrected. It’s also really time consuming.

Bath Renovation After the plumbing and structure was repaired and rebuilt, we could finally jump into the fun part- tile. At this point we were around the two to three week mark. Emmett started tiling and it took him much longer than he anticipated… a couple weeks. It was a tedious part of the process and is one of his least favorite things when it comes to construction. After that, he installed the vanity and medicine cabinet, so we could actually use the sink and brush our teeth (win!).

Bathroom Tile Prep In regards to the bathtub, we had a little incident. If you follow along on Insta Stories, you probably have been witnessing this painstaking project and already know how this story ends. Our plan was to keep the original cast iron bathtub- it’s super heavy and was in great condition. Keyword being was. While I was at a client project checking in on a contractor, I got a call from Emmett saying I needed to find a bathtub replacement ASAP. Definitely not the words I expected to hear and it certainly wasn’t part of the original plan or budget.

Bathroom Before It turns out he dropped a huge hammer on the tub and dented / scuffed it in a few places. I ended up scheduling to have the bathtub resurfaced (that’s getting a totally separate post), but it added around $700 to the project, causing us to go over budget significantly.

Bathtub Resurfacing To sum up the overall experience so far, we were without a toilet for the first 7(!) days. Yep, it’s every bit as bad as it sounds. I had a lot of Starbucks- which was a double edged sword because it made me have to pee even more, and in return buy more Starbucks to use their restroom. A vicious cycle! I’m not going to lie… I might’ve had to pee in our yard once too- in true camping fashion. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It was definitely not a glamorous week.

We’ve been without a shower even longer (around 6 weeks) and it’s still not functioning. It turns out we were the unlucky ones who received a defective tub / shower diverter from the plumbing fixture manufacturer. Of course the product we need to correct the problem is on backorder… so we’re waiting. In the meantime, we’ve been taking baths for the past week. Before the bathtub was working, we took all of our shower products to our friend’s house. Luckily, they let us come and go as we please, but still- super inconvenient.

We still need to run electrical, install lighting, sand and repair the ceiling, paint, and install accessories (towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc). At this point, I’m just happy to have a functioning toilet and bath. It’s coming along… it really is, and it’s going to be super beautiful, but these are things I don’t always share. It’s never like an easy HGTV makeover where you see the before and POOF(!) there’s a beautiful finished room that took all of two hours. That’s not real life.

Black Hex Tile Our two week bathroom reno might have turned into eight weeks (and counting), but we really can’t do anything about it other than laugh. It’s part of this gig we call renovating. It’s a process, it’s hard work, it’s emotionally draining, but it’s SO rewarding. We’re doing 100% of this ourselves and we’re making crazy memories along the way. We’re creating this beautiful place together and that’s what it’s all about… peeing in the yard and all that shenanigans that come along with it.

If you’re wondering where exactly the bath started and are interested in seeing our original design plan, click here. Obviously I’ll be sharing the bathroom in all it’s glory once it’s totally finished, but believe me when I say, there’s nobody who wants the sucker done more than I do! You guys will be the first to see. I’ll also divulge alllll of the resources once I share the full post- so stay tuned!

7 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy Lynn
    May 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Oh man! Gotta love those hiccups! I’m so glad that we knew from the get-go that ours was going to be extensive enough that we didn’t want to live in it, so we bought a 5th wheel. And good thing too, because a week and a half ago, literally half of our house was torn down to dirt and we’re starting from the foundation up! But, like you said, all you can do is laugh sometimes lol. And I loved the peeing in the yard, haha! You gotta do what you gotta do!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Ha! So smart!! That sounds so nice right about now (the 5th wheel- NOT peeing in the yard). lol! I’m pretty sure our neighbors are beginning to think we’re mega hippies. Good look with your own reno, Amy Lynn! xo

  • Reply
    Lbpv
    May 16, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks for letting us in on the behind the scene. Yep, these things seldom go as planned. My husband says “this should be easy” and I say “famous last words”. Looking forward to the final reveal!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      Haha!! That’s what I always say, “famous last words”… we’ve learned to never say EASY. Thanks for following along! xo

  • Reply
    Amanda Katherine
    May 16, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I feel your pain!!!! We renovated our only bathroom 2 years ago and it was brutal. It was our very first renovation ever so we had no idea what we were doing and just learning on the fly. We underestimated how long it takes for tile and grout to dry before you can stand on it or shower. I had to shower at the gym every night for 2 weeks. And the toilet…I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to have to pee outside a couple times! Our project didn’t last as long as yours luckily. I don’t know how you’re doing it! The end result will be SO worth it!

  • Reply
    Gaby
    May 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I had a flood destroy my home a week after buying it. 6 months without a bathroom while we dealt with insurance and had the claim settled. I totally feel your pain!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 18, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      That is terrible! You had it WAY worse, Gaby. I’m choosing to be in this mess, but I can’t imagine having a flood destroy my home. I hope everything is taken care of now! xo

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