Friday, 9 March 2018

Defining "functional" loosely

What makes a house livable?

Heat - Check!
Electrical - Check!
Kitchen (a place to store and cook food) - Check!
Bathroom (a working toilet and tub) -
Bedroom (a place to sleep) -

That's right, it's time to let you in on what we did to make our bathroom "functional". 

I am using the definition of that term incredibly loosely because what I have gotten used to as being "functional" is by no means the same thing that most people in the Western world would use.

For example, functional to me does not necessarily include a bathroom sink. Or a vanity. Or a mirror. Or... you know... a door.

I actually just mentioned to someone the other day that it is incredible how quickly you can adjust and get used to situations that would otherwise seem rather primitive. 

Aka... we still don't have a sink or a door...... Well we HAVE them... they just aren't installed. 

I have said it before and I will say it again; we are living the dream over here!

The last time you saw the bathroom it looked like this: 


The electrical was hooked up, the tub and surround installed, and the walls up and taped/mudded. 

What was left to do?

Step One: Paint!
We wanted to get the walls painted while the floor remained just a subfloor. You can prime and paint a room SO quickly when you don't have any trim or flooring to protect. 

The tub was the only area we needed to be careful around and even then, if we did slip up, it was incredibly easy to clean. 

First I sanded down the walls and wiped them clean. I recently did this work again in the master bedroom and hallway and was reminded of how dusty it is... it gets everywhere. Here's a tip: don't plan on doing anything else that day unless you shower first. No matter how careful you are, the dust will cover your clothes, skin, and hair in a very healthy layer of white. My favourite is the "cocaine nose" that inevitably happens... it's a super attractive look. 

Next step was to prime. Jake and I did a couple of rooms at the same time here and it worked out really well because I would cut in the corners and edges, then move to the next room while Jake rolled the previous room. 



I love the impact priming a room has. For the first time, it starts to really look like a room. Until you paint... then it looks like YOUR room.

When I choose a paint colour I have a very specific set of requirements, one of which most people don't tend to account for. 

The final colour must accomplish the following: 
- Give the room the feeling we're going for
- Match any "permanent" elements (for example, I wanted it to pick up on and emphasize the stained glass we intend to install in this room)
- Look good in all times of the day and under the correct type of lighting
- Match all other wall colours used in the house

The custom stained glass we had made for the bathroom window was a huge factor in our wall colour choice.
We brought the stained glass up, propped it in the window and THEN narrowed down our options.

Obviously, these photos are way older and do not directly relate to the paint colour choice process.
I just wanted to show you the stained glass again.

The last requirement is the one most people don't understand. One thing I cannot help hating is when you walk through a house and individually, the rooms look great! But walking from one room to the next does not make sense. 

I am a fan of colour and defined rooms as well though, so this definitely doesn't mean every room needs to be painted the same. All it means is that as you walk through the house, each room flows into the next. Or at the very least if more than one room is in your line of sight, the wall colours compliment each other. 

This is usually the last thing I consider, but in the past it has changed my mind on what I thought I wanted. 

After deciding the colours that we didn't want (I was considering green, but Jake was against it) we then pulled out the fandeck and went through our options. 

We ended up agreeing on a pale yellow (which surprises me because I am not usually a fan of yellows) called "Parchment"


And in no time at all, we had a yellow bathroom!





Step Two: Flooring

Now that we had warmed up the space with the yellow walls, I wanted to cool it down again while at the same time keeping it bright (and, tying the white tub back in). 

Almost from day one, we knew that the downstairs bathroom was going to be a room that we "quick fixed". 

Basically, that means we wanted it to look good once we finished it, but didn't want to put the effort or money into using amazing materials. And in fact, it's in our minds that if we stay in the house long enough, this room will get re-done at some point. 

What exactly does that mean?

It means we used a fiberglass tub and surround instead of a claw-foot, or even tiled surround. It also means that instead of marble or porcelain floors, we went with vinyl. 

From a timing and cost perspective, it made more sense to install a tub like this instead of something cooler like a clawfoot.

We knew vinyl was the best choice in terms of durability and water proofing. It was just a bit of a toss up on which type of vinyl we would use. 

There are some pretty cool vinyl sheets out there now, but we weren't confident in our installation skills, therefore we would have to incur an additional cost to get it installed professionally. 

Then there are the typical sticky vinyl tiles or groutable vinyl tiles. Both of which were completely acceptable options, just not what we thought we wanted. 

Unfortunately for us, what we wanted was the most expensive type of vinyl tile out there... *sigh*

Introducing the click-lock vinyl tiles!


Jake wanted this more than me, although I was very keen on the ease of installation. Aside from the installation process being by far the easiest, this was the most water-proof out of all the vinyl tiles. 

I knew I wanted something natural looking, and something that would brighten up the space. I loved a set of tile that I found at Rona that were a 12x24 Carrara marble look-alike, the only problem was the price... They were listed at a whopping $74.04 per box... with 12 tiles in a box. That is $3.08/sqft. I struggled with this, because I could get decent looking tile for cheaper than this vinyl...

Gorgeous eh?!
So I searched for other, cheaper options. All the while coming back to the marble look-alike with wistful longing. 

Then December happened and Rona began holding new Christmas sales every week. I mean, amazing Christmas sales. The type of Christmas sales that meant a $74.04 box of vinyl click tiles were being sold for $42.44. 

WHAT?!

That is a solid 47% off! Of something I legitimately wanted and needed. So obviously, we bought them. 



These were decidedly more effort to install than the kitchen tiles, but I also was more concerned with getting these right so that they would protect the subfloor from water damage. Cutting around the toilet area was the most finicky by far. 

I loved the way it made the room feel clean. There is definitely something to be said for white to help with that. 


Step Three: Installing a toilet!

The final thing that we needed was a working toilet. The plumbing for the tub was installed by the plumber the same time the tub got installed (way back in June), so we already had a place we could use to wash our hands. But the toilet installation was all us. 

Due to the timing of this all happening before Christmas, we knew we wanted to go inexpensive with our toilet. 

Notice how I didn't use the word "cheap"?

Yeah... it's a toilet. If something goes wrong it's never an "oh well" moment. 

So I spent a good deal of time looking through what was available at our local hardware stores (we are very lucky and have a Home Depot, Lowes, and Rona literally all across the road from each other in our city) and then after narrowing down based on price, I searched the internet for reviews. 

We ended up settling on this one from Lowes:



It had some solid reviews and was really inexpensive. Especially since it was also on sale when we snagged it (mind you... it was only $5 off of regular price... but a sale is a sale!)


I think this might have been the most nerve-wracking thing we have done to the house to date. It was really easy, but for some reason I was terrified everything would go wrong. 


With those things done, our checklist officially looked like this: 

What makes a house livable?

Heat - Check!
Electrical - Check!
Kitchen (a place to store and cook food) - Check!
Bathroom (a working toilet and tub) - Check!
Bedroom (a place to sleep) -

Now you can clearly see how low our standards of a functional bathroom actually are. If you follow me on Instagram you will see the odd post about the status of our bathroom as it currently sits and if you want more up-to-date information, I would suggest following me there or even on Facebook. I will slowly work my way through updating the blog with more information as we go along in the renovation journey. 

My next post will go through getting the bedroom ready and what we determined "moving in" actually looked like. And then, you will officially be caught up on what we had to do to move in!

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