Tag Archives: vanity

The Converted Vanity

On Saturday, we picked up our shower pan and shower doors, FINALLY. The biscuit color made the cut and matches pretty perfectly with the tub, so that’s what we went with. The biscuit was about $25 more than the white pan, for some reason, but when the guy did the return of the white one (we bought both colors so we could compare, planning to return the unwanted one), he accidentally returned the biscuit one and refunded me the higher amount. I pointed out his mistake, but clearly he was having that kind of day, so he said don’t worry about it. Not that I’m ever worried about not giving Lowe’s enough of my money.

We got the pan home, and it fits about 95% into the shower spot. The drain is shifted a tad too far over, but we think Lowe’s carries an offset drain that will fix that issue. The rest fits well, and I’m impressed with how sturdy it feels for $200. Despite the sturdiness, the instructions say to “lay the pan in a bed of mortar.” We can’t figure out why this is necessary, but perhaps it is because our pan doesn’t actually get screwed into the studs so the mortar kind of supports it and holds it in place? The amount of mortar to use is vague, so I contacted the company and they recommended going with a ~3/4″ bed towards the edges of the pan, and about 3/8″ bed towards where the drain is. The pan slopes towards the drain, so this makes sense, but that is still a THICK bed of mortar that will be heavy. I pity the next person who tries to renovate this bathroom, because it would take a jackhammer to remove such a thick block of mortar that is hidden under a fiberglass pan, no less. I’ll just say I am eternally thankful the people who installed our previous shower insert didn’t put mortar underneath it.

Laying the mortar will be simple enough, but getting the 40 pound, 36″x48″ pan laid on top of it and kept level, into a space with 3 walls surrounding it will be tricky. We’ll have to tackle this soon, though, hopefully on Saturday. My 30th birthday is also on Saturday (and Nik’s is on Tuesday!) and while installing a shower pan for a milestone birthday activity sounds depressing at best, when I think about the difficult but rewarding renovations I have the privilege of doing beside my mostly-tolerant husband in the house that we are thankful to be building a life in together, there are minimal complaints here!

I’m sure we’ll have pics from the shower pan process, so I’ll save those for once the pan is in. The rest of this post, I’ll show pictures of our converted vanity. I already showed how we removed the bottom of the vanity and mounted it on plywood for a new base:

IMG_1876

Before

IMG_1880

After

The vanity was then measuring about 26 and 3/4″ tall, and our goal height was 34″ (so-called ‘adult’ vanity height). The vanity top is about an inch thick, so we were looking for 6″ legs. We found some we liked a little more than what we went with, but they were only 4.5″, so we would’ve had to find a way to extend them and then cover that extension with trim. Then we found the 6″ ones that we went with. They seemed a little unsubstantial so I had the idea to actually do 4 across the front, one around each set of doors. Here are the feet, and the piece of trim we used to hide the transition:

Nik attached the feet with straight brackets, then installed the trim with wood glue and finishing nails:

IMG_3617

So here’s what the corners looked like finished:

IMG_3626

Next we flipped it and applied a bead of caulk at the trim seam:

IMG_3627

And finally gave it a coat of primer that night, in addition to the drawers and doors:

IMG_3628

I think it looks great, and once there is real paint on it it will look like we bought a new vanity! We puzzled over colors with the new vanity top for some while, and settled on a just-off-white color called Silent White (Clark and Kensington) for the vanity, and a slightly darker, blue-grey tinged color called Paper White (Benjamin Moore) for the walls. We got a sample for the walls before we’ll make the final decision, and we also bought a sample for the vanity paint that should be able to cover the whole thing without buying a larger portion of paint.

For a price breakdown of the vanity upgrade, we used half a sheet of plywood for the base ($11), 7 feet cost $21, the feet brackets were about $16, the trim was $12, and the sample paint was $5. So far the total is $65, but we still need hardware which will probably be about $35. So a “new vanity” base for $100. Not too bad, considering poorly built ones on Wayfair sell for over $900.

This week we’re working on getting the vanity painted and sealed, and like I said, hopefully getting the shower pan in Saturday and finishing up that last bit of tile next to the pan. So maybe we can finally grout the floor on Sunday.

Floor tile!

Somehow, Nik and I still manage to surprise ourselves when we actually get things done in a weekend…and this weekend was a particularly productive one. At some point on Saturday, I actually said to Nik, “But are you sure we want to do this all today? This is a problem because then we’ll have nothing to do Sunday.” And then he glared at me and reminded me that it’s ok to do nothing once and a while. But then we found things to do all day Sunday anyway!

Thursday night after work we got the last batch of mortar mixed up to get the rest of the cement board adhered to the subfloor.

IMG_1871

Saturday morning I sent Nik to Lowe’s to buy the floor tile while I bumbled around the house doing something I can’t remember that seemed important at the time. We were planning to cut a couple rows of tile at a time then lay them in mortar, then continue with the next few rows, but this quickly turned into us deciding to precut all the tiles to size and laying them out with spacers. With all this work happening up on the second floor…and the tile saw outside on the other side of the garage, running up and down stairs to cut a tile while mortar is drying in the bucket didn’t seem like a good idea. So after all the measuring and cutting we progressed to this:

As planned, we left that cut out around where the shower base is, and this will have to be finished once that is in (hopefully this week!).

Here’s Nik trimming out around the toilet pipe – he used the same technique he used in our downstairs bathroom, making thin cuts he could then tap out and use the tile nippers to get the nubs:

IMG_1873

IMG_1874

So once everything was laid out, we got ~18 lbs of mortar mixed up – we used TEC latex modified thin set porcelain mortar, about $20/50 lbs, for those who are curious. We thought 2 of the 18 lb batches should do the whole room. And then we started spreading – we used a 1/4″ trowel, spread it, placed a tile, then added a 1/8″ spacer. Then we used a piece of wood and a mallet to help settle the tile.

IMG_3606

For those who thought I wasn’t “contractor” material – I promise I’m getting close. Next time I just have to wear lower underwear and I’ll be the real deal!

IMG_3604

After our first 18 lb batch, we went to mix the second batch, so I dumped all the water required for 18 lbs in with the first 6 lbs, then realized I only had another 9 lbs of dry powder to mix in. A mere 3 lbs short. Nik agreed to make a quick run to Lowe’s for another 50 lb bag (thankfully only 5 min away), and as he was backing out of the driveway, I was messing with the power drill and the mixing attachment that stirs the mortar, and I somehow dropped the drill INTO the mortar bucket with the 6 lbs of very runny mortar in it. The drilled was immersed – mortar in every vent and crevice. Nik basically just glared at me (not the first time that day…), muttered something incoherent and angry under his breath, and drove away. I dragged the dripping drill to the backyard and hosed it off as best I could, praying I wasn’t totally ruining the motor with the water. Amazingly, it started right back up when I plugged it in. Whew!

So we got the new 50 lb bag opened up so I could get my last 3 lbs out of it, then finished the second half of the tile-setting. Here’s the last tile going in! This seems like a stupid spot for the last tile but we had to do the doorway first since the door had to be closed to do those…but you can’t step on the tile for 24 hours after laying it. So I closed myself in the bathroom and stood where this last tile would be, then hopped over into the bedroom and reached across to do this last tile. Luckily, the spacing worked out pretty well. The grout line around this last tile ended up a smidge large, but I’ll take it.

IMG_3602

So, here is the finished project as of 6:30pm on Saturday:

IMG_1882

IMG_1884

Most of the wonky spots where a tile laid low or high seem to be ok – we knew where to expect these spots from laying out the tiles first without mortar, so we were able to lay a little extra mortar or tap the tile a bit more to even out the corners in these spots.

So onto our supposedly lazy Sunday. We went out for a relaxing breakfast, came back and watched Fixer Upper reruns for an hour, then felt motivated enough to start working on the vanity. Our plan for this was to lop off the bottom portion (where the kickplate is), mount it on a flat sheet of plywood for support, then add feet to lift it higher. We’ll have to put some sort of trim and/or apron piece to cover the plywood and where the feet meet the piece, but we still have to figure that out once we pick out feet.

Here’s how the vanity started:

We dragged it out to a shady corner of our driveway, and Nik used the multitool jigsaw to cut a neat line along the sides and back:

IMG_3603

IMG_3608

That worked out nicely on the sides, but the back had a really flimsy piece of MDF at the bottom so we actually took that side an inch further and added a new more-solid piece of wood to support the back. Then we cut a piece of 3/4″ OSB board (the remnants of what we used to repatch the bathroom floor) to the side of the bottom.

IMG_3609

We attached this piece with wood glue and some finishing nails. We’re aiming for a 34″ tall vanity, which will require legs somewhere in the 6″ range to get it to that height. Then we gave the whole body a sanding with the orbital sander, and I did the drawers and doors by hand. Now we’re ready for primer!

IMG_1880

Here’s a closeup of how the base meets the plywood now:

IMG_1881

We have a few colors in mind for the vanity – we’ll probably use something off white, to brighten up the room since the floor is on the darker side. But we want to actually get the vanity top out of the box and compare colors with that, and wait to see what color shower pan we end up with before we make the final decision.

This coming week will hopefully include getting our shower pan installed so we can finish that last small area of tile. Once that is done, we’ll grout the whole floor – likely with a darker gray grout. I’d also like to figure out vanity legs and trim, because as soon as we get that built, we can move the vanity back into the room and things will really start coming together.

The Master Bath Renovation: The Starting Point

Nik’s parents were supposed to be visiting for the next two weekends, but their plans got pushed off until early July, so we no longer have an excuse for not starting our master bathroom renovation! I’ve been itching to start this project (is it normal to feel antsy if I haven’t demo-ed something ugly in our house within the last 6 months?), so I’m ready to go! Plus, this time around we have a whole week’s notice (since the change of visit plans) before deciding to rip a bathroom down to the sub floor….last time this happened, it was approximately 10 minutes from decision to demo!

We haven’t actually started anything yet…in fact we haven’t even gone to the store to look at color schemes and tile options, but I have some vague ideas in mind. Here is a picture of our bathroom layout:

bathroom layout.JPG

We wanted to move things around (move shower to tub area, relocate toilet to shower area) but we decided it wasn’t worth the investment for the price range of our home. So this project will hopefully be all cosmetic, unless we find issues when things are removed.

Overall, we’ll be refurbishing our current vanity and adding a new top, sinks, and faucets in addition to raising it off the ground on feet to make it adult height (these are old pictures, but you get the idea).

New house Aug 2015 062

We’ll be tiling the floor, and painting the walls. And finally we’ll be ripping out our full shower insert and replacing it with a shower pan, tiled walls, a new glass door, and new hardware.

New house Aug 2015 066

Do you notice everything is so blah and neutral its hard to even tell the floor from the wall from the tub from the shower in that picture? Our awful garden tub will stay since removing and replacing that will be an expensive pain, but to dress it up, we may built an encasement around it (something like this) and update the faucet and tile above it. It is currently off white, meaning our new shower pan might also have to be off white to match, which I think I’m ok with. Stark white in a bathroom means more need to clean all the time!

So here is the actual planned order of events. We wanted to get this down on paper so we could make a very rough timeline and budget, so I’ll add those details to each bullet point.

Demo (planning to do this over the next couple weekends; cost: free!)

  • Remove toilet, vanity, mirror, and quarter round floor trim
  • Remove linoleum and underlayment, shower doors, and shower insert

Installing the “underparts” of the shower: we assume we will replace whatever is under the shower insert with cement backer board, followed by some sort of waterproofing application (there are actual membranes like Schluter membrane or paint-on options). Then the shower base pan will be added and fitted to the drain. Hopefully no replacement of subfloor will be required, but if there is any water leakage or moldy spots we may need to do some replacing. We’d like to have this done by the first weekend in June.

  • Cut and install cement board ($60 for boards and cement screws)
  • Install shower pan and fit to base plumbing (~$200 for pan)
  • Seal all seams and waterproof the walls/seams (not sure what product we’re using yet, I’ll assume it won’t be cheap! $150)

Next up will be tiling the floor. We’ll be using Schluter Ditra underlayment which is pricey, but it’s a lightweight foam alternative to using heavy cement board. Since our bathroom previously had lightweight linoleum, we don’t want to stress our floors out too much by adding a new, heavy, weight to the second floor. Then tile, then grout. We’re thinking some sort of gray tile, since we generate a lot of dust and hair, which I never clean in a timely manner. We’d love to have this done by mid June.

  • Coat floor with thin-set mortar and lay out underlayment ($200)
  • Apply mortar and lay tiles ($300)
  • Grout tiles ($30)
  • Reattach quarter round trim around floor ($30)

Install toilet and vanity. The installation is easy, but we need to find time to refurbish the vanity as well. Hopefully on weekday evenings we’ll be making progress on the vanity, which will include sanding/painting, and adding a new base with legs. We’ll need to identify a company to install a new counter and sinks, and after that Nik will probably attempt the faucet install himself.  If we could get this done by early July, that would be awesome, but you know how things go…

  • Sand, prime, paint vanity
  • Mount on a new base ($15)
  • Attach legs ($40)
  • Relocate to bathroom; counter/sink/faucet installation ($500)
  • Vanity backsplash ($100)
  • Vanity mirror and light (eventually, we’ll estimate a cost of $200)
  • Reinstall old toilet (free!)

And the final major project is finishing the shower. This will include applying mortar, tiling, grouting, installing hardware, and installing new glass doors. We’re thinking some sort of light gray/cream tone tile for the shower – something that matches the gray floor, but lighter. Our goal is to have this done by the end of July (plus anything else that’s not done yet – I’m sure we’ll be behind schedule!).

  • Apply mortar then tiles to waterproofed cement board ($200)
  • Grout tiles
  • Add new hardware ($120)
  • Install glass door ($500 – turns out these are really expensive!!) We’re still deciding between a pivot glass door or a sliding one. I was thinking pivot, but they all have pretty abysmal reviews and are slightly more expensive, but the sliding doors like this one and this one have fantastic reviews…so this may sway my decision.
  • Paint walls ($30)
  • Someday install crown molding? We have extra left over in the garage…(free!)

If we do the tub, a very rough cost for tiles, a new faucet, and if we build a encasement would be about $250.

So that brings our very rough total, if we include the tub to a little under $3000. Then there will be expenses like new towel racks, rugs, etc. to make the space look nice. I was generous on some of the amounts since we have no idea what tiles, counters, fixtures or anything that we’re picking yet, but I feel like that is a reasonable budget. If we can find ways to save money along the way, even better!

This was a long post, and not many pictures. But once this project is underway there will be plenty of progress pictures to share!

Bathroom Reveal

This title may be a little misleading, suggesting we’re TOTALLY done with the bathroom. There’s still a few tiny things to do…finishing the caulking around the toilet (once we’re sure its still got a good seal), caulking around the vanity, and adding the wood threshold piece to the floor. And we’re still deciding on a mirror (I have one option to show you). But for all other cosmetic purposes, it’s all done so I can show pictures!

To remind you, here’s what we started with:

New house Aug 2015 069     New house Aug 2015 072IMG_0507

And here’s the final product:

IMG_0682

IMG_2393

IMG_0674

Here’s some close up on the vanity backsplash – tile trim edge pieces are insanely expensive (would’ve cost more than $40!) so I found some decorative wood trim to use instead:

IMG_0676

I also spent $20 on a new toilet paper and towel holder:

Figuring out where to put these was trickier than I imagined. Nik performed some highly technical positional testing, and we referred to internet sites that recommended TP holder placement:

IMG_2390

So there you have it!

We’re very happy with how it turned out – admittedly better than expected. I’ll give you a rough breakdown for the cost of this project, from start to finish. We had leftovers for a lot of things that will definitely get used on more projects, so I’ll count only what we used. We also had to buy a tile saw ($80), mortar spreaders ($10) and mixer ($6) and grout floats ($6), but these tools will last a while.

Demo and rebuild ~ 5 weekends of time

50 lb Mortar (used about 1/2 bag) $25/2  = $12.50

10 lb grout (used about 1/4 bag) $30/4 = $7.50

Cement backer board for floor (3’x5′) $10

Screws for cement board (2 packs) $10

Vanity and sink (on sale) $180

Faucet $70

Faucet water lines $ 15

Toilet paper holder/towel rack $20

Extra drain pipe length $6

Toilet seat $25

Toilet foam/wax ring $12

Plumbers Putty/caulk/adhesive $10

Wood Trim piece $5

Floor tile $42

Wall tile $60

Wall paint (clearance mismatch gallon) $9

Threshold wood (half a piece) $15/2 = $7.50

Extra quarter round trim $4

Total: Around $507

People care about bathrooms a lot, especially ones guests will use. For a little over $500, and all the DIY expertise we gained with tiling that we can now use in our kitchen and eventually upstairs bathrooms, I think this was a great investment. Now, on to the kitchen!

If you give us a toilet seat…

Have you heard of the children’s book “if you give a mouse a cookie?” The story goes on that if you give the mouse a cookie then he asks for milk…then he asks for a straw…then it continues to escalate as he asks for more things. Apparently our “cookie” is a toilet seat. And when we bought a new toilet seat on Saturday evening to replace the old one on our downstairs toilet and spruce up the bathroom a bit, in a matter of hours (and completely on a whim) we went from this:

To this:

IMG_0528

Now, we have been planning to eventually demo this bathroom this month, but it was not planned to be started this soon. So, it seems like our children’s book goes something like “if you give us a simple toilet seat…we’ll tear a bathroom down to the subfloor.” Our future kids wil be DIY pros if we read them this kind of story!

To show you step by step how we did this, we started with the toilet. Nik turned the water off, then flushed to empty the tank. Then he sopped up extra water with a sponge and  loosened the bolts.

IMG_0511

I grabbed a large bag, and Nik lifted the toilet up and straight into the bag to catch any dripping water. We plopped it on the deck for the time being:

IMG_0514

Then Nik scraped off the wax ring and stuffed the hole with a rag for the time being. Luckily he knows what he’s doing, because I (stupidly) thought that gross wax ring was poop. Can you blame me?

IMG_0516

Next we removed the counter top and side panels which required some maneuvering since it was actually wider than the wall with the door casing right there.

IMG_0519

And then out came the vanity, which is now residing in our garage as a handy workbench.

IMG_0522

Finally, the linoleum and underlayment it was glued to was ripped up, leaving approximately 1 million little staple nails behind in the subfloor which we plucked out one by one with a nail puller.

IMG_0528

We also removed the two weird pieces of wood that were behind the towel rack and toilet paper holder, which left behind a little damage in the drywall that’ll have to be patched.

IMG_0524

So next on the list, we need to pick out tile and figure out how to prep the subfloor to lay the tile. Then we’ll need to add some new floor trim around where the vanity was, since our new vanity won’t go all the way to the side walls. Then we’ll paint with some semigloss grey-beige clearance mismatch paint we found at Home Depot. Then we’ll need to install the vanity we bought a while ago, which will require some plumbing altering since this sink is about 4″ higher:

Style Selections Drayden Grey Integral Single Sink Bathroom Vanity with Cultured Marble Top (Common: 31-in x 19-in; Actual: 30.5-in x 18.75-in)

If we’re feeling artsy we might add something to the walls for more character – tiling or chair rail or something. I think we’ll also upgrade the mirror to something nicer with a frame. And finally, our toilet will go back in and the last piece will be put in place: the toilet seat that started this whole renovation!

Little Girl’s Vanity Desk

We finally finished working on the antique vanity that we turned into a little girl’s desk. I posted about this a few weeks ago, but to refresh your memory, this is what we started with:

IMG_0818       IMG_0660

You can see it was originally very short, so we added 8 6″ legs to the base to make it a better height. The finish was flaking off, so we sanded the entire piece down and primed it.

Originally, we were hoping to stain parts of the wood, but it was made of pretty cheap materials that probably wouldn’t have worked well with stain. We also toyed with the idea of making this into a vanity for a bathroom sink, by placing a vessel sink in the lower middle part and removing parts of some of the drawers to make room for plumbing. The cost of that would’ve been pretty high (just for the vessel portion would’ve put us at least at $100, and the vanity and legs weren’t cheap).

Instead, we decided to make this into a little girl’s desk. I know I would’ve loved something like this as a kid – mainly because it has a huge mirror and what little girl doesn’t love to dress up and look at herself in the mirror? So, we decided to go with pink and white paint. We picked a very faint blush pink and a white paint we keep going back to called cream delight. The top surfaces, sides, and drawers were painted pink, and the rest got the white trim. The top of the desk was also sealed with a layer of water-based poly, to protect the surface.

IMG_0803The finished piece came out very cute, and we finally mounted the mirror on it. We noticed this old mirror had some edge wear, with the mirror paint chipping off at some parts. We used clear nail polish to seal the edges and prevent any more chipping. I think the age marks on the mirror add some character to this piece.

IMG_0826          IMG_0825

For the knobs, we used some wooden knobs that were replaced with something else from a different piece, and we primed and painted those pink as well:

IMG_0827Next, we fixed up a blue chair that we picked up at the Raleigh flea market, and painted it in a matching white color to go with the desk:

IMG_0808            chair

As a finishing touch we lined the drawers with some pretty patterned drawer liner we had left over from another project.

IMG_0829We have this posted right now, hopefully it sells soon!

Works in Progress

I was originally planning on doing a post for every piece we completed, but somehow we’ve found ourselves working on FOUR pieces at once! This means it’s a little progress here and there on each piece, but we probably won’t have anything completely finished for a while. So today I’ll write about these four pieces and the progress (or lack thereof?) we’ve made.

Nik has been on a bartending kick lately, and  has purchased a collection of unusual alcohols to mix drinks. Unfortunately, our kitchen and pantry are small, so most of these bottles and the fancy kitchen gadgets used to make the drinks have been cluttering our counter tops for the past few weeks. We decided we are in need of a bar cabinet to hold everything. We bought this old tv/stereo cabinet for $20. It’s a mix of solid wood and particle board with veneer, so it should be a workable surface to sand and paint or stain. Right now we’re thinking some sort of dark paint for the body, and maybe stained wood on the top.

IMG_0751 IMG_0752

It has a neat little drawer that pulls out too, so that can be used for glasses and gadgets. Bottles and a wine rack will go inside the cabinet. Nik decided the top needed a rail for containing things, like this but more like the metal rail on this bar. We made a lengthy trip to the plumbing section of Home Depot on Saturday to see what we could fashion from copper piping. We ended up buying connectors, some end caps, and 10 feet of 1/2″ copper pipe, and a copper pipe cutter device.

IMG_0759

By the end of the night, Nik had designed this scheme:

IMG_0761

…and constructed this:

IMG_0760   IMG_0762

It came out great! He then cut little 1.5″ lengths of pipe to lift the rail off the bar a bit and I buffed all the piping with steel wool to shine it up and remove the printing that was on the pipe. To attach it to the bar, we’re planning on gluing a small piece of wooden dowel into the base pipes and screwing it down into the top of the bar. We’ll probably do that last, after we’ve refinished the bar top, so there’s a lot to happen before the rail is on!

For our next project, we’ve wanted to replace our coffee table for a while because it’s cheap and old. While I was away one weekend Nik bought a modern-looking table from someone in Carrboro for $50. I thought the price was a little steep, and when he brought it home and I looked at it, we realized its not even real wood. We still like the design though, and it’s a heavy duty table. It was used as a kid’s craft table by the previous owner, so we planned on just cleaning it up, restaining any imperfections, and sealing it with poly since there’s not much else we can do with not-real wood. I spent last night sanding glitter off of it, but I accidentally sanded through some of the finish. Now we’re rethinking this project, and we’re maybe leaning towards spray painting it in a sleek high gloss white, but we’re not sure yet.

Next, when Nik was buying that coffee table, he spied a dining table that was being discarded in the neighbor’s yard. He grabbed the table and the disassembled pedestal legs and toted it home. Once he got home, he realized it was being discarded because not all of the pedestal parts were there…

IMG_0749e

It needs four of those bottom foot pieces, and there are only two! But, the table was free, so after searching craigslist, we found 4 metal table legs for $40, and Nik worked on stabilizing the table base and screwing the legs into the table bottom yesterday:

IMG_0750

After that, we’ll probably sand and paint the table and put it up for sale.

Our final project is an unusual little vanity we picked up for $60. Its an old piece, but it’s interesting and I think it will work nicely as a little girl’s desk (people pay a surprising amount of money for kid things on craigslist). It was a lot shorter than we were expecting when we picked it up, so we found some legs at the lumber store for $45 to attach to it to get it to a more reasonable “desk height”. You can see the lighter color legs we added in this picture:

IMG_0660

It has 4 drawers and a large mirror, and we also bought a little kid’s chair at the Raleigh flea market to go with it for $10. The desk is currently primed with paint, and the flat surfaces are painted a very light blush pink color. The trim and chair will be white.

So, those are the 4 seemingly endless projects we’re working on at the moment. It was so hot this weekend we didn’t make much progress, but hopefully we can work on things during the evenings this week!