White Cottage: Renovating a bathroom- ok no problem…but relocating it too???

peeking in the bath
peeking in the bathroom in the white cottage- still a work in progress

Renovating a bathroom- ok no problem…but relocating it too???

Lets face it, one of the first things most people including me notice when looking at a house is not the basement, (which holds all the secrets by the way) but the appearance of the kitchen and the bathrooms. Sometimes it is all about appearances. And…these rooms often need the most updating and the price tag of renovations can  affect negotiations on the selling price of a house.

We already had an idea of how much work we were in for because the cottage was condemned and the space the bathroom was in was beyond repair. The original bathroom in the white cottage was in a shed, attached to the rear of the cottage. It had been badly damaged from the fire in the barn about 15 years ago and left neglected.

This is the shed attached to the back of the cottage. It contained the bathroom, back hall and basement entrance. Lots of fire damage made it impossible to repair.
This is the shed attached to the back of the cottage. It contained the bathroom, back hall and basement entrance. Lots of fire damage made it impossible to repair.

Tearing off the shed and rebuilding a new structure to maintain the square footage was not in our budget. So not only did we have to remodel the bathroom, we had to relocate it too. This amount of work was a far cry from my former realtor’s quip about every house she showed me back in Fairfield County…”A little paint, a little wallpaper and it will be as cute as can be.” Right? I guess I have come a long way.

Cottage bathroom- sans tub
Cottage bathroom- sans tub
This is the cottage bathroom, without fixtures.
This is the cottage bathroom, without fixtures.
Bathroom deconstruction
Bathroom deconstruction

Will decided to do a lot of the demolition himself to help us save money. First he stripped the fixtures out of the bathroom and cut out the waste pipe. Ick. I had the easy job of photographing his progress and documenting it for this blog. When I saw the 300 plus pound cast iron bathtub lying on its side in the living room I wondered just how he managed to move it all this by himself.

 

 

Will must have eaten a lot of spinach this day. He single handedly removed and relocated this cast iron tub. I think it probably weighed in over 300 pounds.
Will must have eaten a lot of spinach this day. He single handedly removed and relocated this cast iron tub. I think it probably weighed in over 300 pounds.
kitchen and bath room sinks await their next destination.
kitchen and bath room sinks await their next destination.

Ever watch a Popeye cartoon? Popeye invariably winds up in a hopeless situation and pops open a can of spinach, which he always carries with him, and gulps the contents. Upon swallowing it his physical strength becomes super human and he saves the day. Sometimes I think Will has super human strength…I will have to find out where he hides his spinach.

 

The new space for the bathroom was incorporated into the footprint of the cottage, relocating the bathroom into the space where the kitchen was. In the next cost saving phase of demolition Will muscled out the appliances and began to knock down the wall separating the kitchen and bedroom.

 

Original kitchen space where sink and cabinet base lived, providing housing for squirrels and mice underneath. We used painters tape on the floor to mark where the new walls and fixtures would be.
Original kitchen space where sink and cabinet base lived, providing housing for squirrels and mice underneath. We used painters tape on the floor to mark where the new walls and fixtures would be.
This is the space for the original kitchen. Great pantry
This is the space for the original kitchen. Great pantry

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The former kitchen space in the cottage now stripped and ready for framing
The former kitchen space in the cottage now stripped and ready for framing

 

The floor plan of the bathroom was fairly straightforward- a tub with shower, toilet and sink. Regardless of how simple we wanted to keep things, the process of putting all the pieces together was at times overwhelming.

And there is always the never -ending saga of the disconnect between my taste level and my budget to contend with.

 

 

What I didn’t expect was the sequence of the decisions I had to make- they all seemed to be backwards. For example, the electrician asked me where I wanted the electrical outlets? I don’t know…the walls aren’t even up yet.

 

The electrician wrote on the framing indicating where outlets and switches would go.
The electrician wrote on the framing indicating where outlets and switches would go.

 

It all began to take shape

 

The original door to the bathroom- looking into the original bedroom space that became the kitchen space that became the sleeping space again...We ended up re framing and re configuring the bath due to the kitchen chaos.
The original door to the bathroom- looking into the original bedroom space that became the kitchen space that became the sleeping space again…We ended up re framing and re configuring the bath due to the kitchen chaos.

photo 4-4

The framing for the shower and tub area.
The framing for the shower and tub area.

Then the wonderboard went up and it started getting real.

White cottage bathroom- tub in place, wonderboard up, tiles come next
White cottage bathroom- tub in place, wonderboard up, tiles come next

Next came the tiling. Timeless and classic, white subway tiles for the tub surround, and honed marble for the floor.

 

After contemplating larger more contemporary tile options like 12 x 24 shapes and tiles that looked like poured concrete I went back to my comfort zone.  I chose the tile for the bath floor- honed marble. I love the color and the small hexagon shape.
After contemplating larger more contemporary tile options like 12 x 24 shapes and tiles that looked like poured concrete I went back to my comfort zone. I chose the tile for the bath floor- honed marble. I love the color and the small hexagon shape.
When in doubt stick to something simple and timeless. Classic white subway tile for tub surround.
When in doubt stick to something simple and timeless. Classic white subway tile for tub surround.

 

But just when you think everything is zipping right long, it all falls apart. The tile installation didn’t go as smoothly as planned. It was a bit wonky and it all had to be ripped down and re done. This stalled the project for several weeks.

Ooops....the tiling job wasn't going the way we had hoped
Ooops….the tiling job wasn’t going the way we had hoped

photo 3-7

Can you see how uneven all the tiles are? And…two different colors of grout. OOOPS

photo 1-10Next came the vanity, my favorite part of the bathroom. Will was inspired to do something fairly industrial and designed a steel frame, which we had made by Sam Finch of Finch Welding.

Will designed the vanity base for the bathroom sink. Sam Finch of Finch Welding in Lowell MA made it for us. The frame is made out of one inch angled steel. We liked the industrial look and applied clear coat it to seal it.
Will designed the vanity base for the bathroom sink. Sam Finch of Finch Welding in Lowell MA made it for us. The frame is made out of one inch angled steel. We liked the industrial look and applied clear coat it to seal it.

The vanity top was a pietra cardosa remnant I found at Lee Tile and Stone

 

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The vanity base arrives
The vanity base arrives
Vanity temporarily in place, measuring for back splash trim
Vanity temporarily in place, measuring for back splash trim
Final touches on the pietra cardosa vanity top
Final touches on the pietra cardosa vanity top

 

One of the hardest choices to make was the light fixture above the mirror. I don’t really care for it or the way it casts light.

photo 5-1But LOVE the medicine cabinet- we chose Kohler’s Verdera
And choosing towel racks? Oh boy- those almost put me over the top. We ended up copying the towels hooks used in our friend Bobbie’s house on Martha’s Vineyard. She does everything right when it comes to houses in our book.

photo 2-12The bathroom is up and running, but still not accessorized. Stay tuned for an image of the complete project.

photo 4-5photo 3-9

6 thoughts on “White Cottage: Renovating a bathroom- ok no problem…but relocating it too???”

  1. Love the progress report! Good job to be sure the tile was reinstalled correctly! Love that classic pattern in cottages here!
    I’m going out to buy a couple cans of spinache – keep some fuel in the cupboard!

  2. It is astonishing – and such fun – to see the progress – from rot and squirrel haven to finished bathroom! Amazing….not just the work, but your spirit as well – it looks so daunting, but you are ON IT!!! That Will is something – how DID he manage that tub? Thanks for keeping me posted!

  3. And I thought I had renovation challenges! You win!!!
    I too suffer from chronic misalignment of my taste with my budget, so I feel your pain. Nevertheless, you have done a fabulous job of customizing the bathroom and making it interesting, yet classic and simple. I also have the sense that anything fussier or too luxe would not really fit in with the vibe of the house. Looks like you are well on your way to successful completion of this renovation!

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