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Wallpaper going up

24 Jul

For years, I had planned to hang the lovely Honeybee wallpaper, by Candace Wheeler, in the bathroom. I knew I couldn’t afford it in the near future, so was saving up for it, and planned to live with the distressed walls until I could afford the paper.

My good friend Liz (rodent expert, dog whisperer, sprain diagnoser, etc. etc.) had some wallpaper she’d gotten from ebay years ago and had planned to use in a bathroom in her old house (across the street), but had later found a different paper that she preferred. She asked me to take a look at the paper, and my immediate thought was, “Stick with the Bees!”, but in the end, the paper was very nice and totally free.

She did a little research and found that it’s a Thomas Strahan paper (though not one listed as currently in production on his web site). It has pretty big flowers — poppies or chrysanthemums or zinnias or some such — on a black and gold field with vines and other flowery shapes. It’s very pretty, and extremely dark.

The paper is o.l.d. I installed Van Luit wall panels (mural) in my bedroom that were printed in 1969 and they were in better shape than this paper. So it could be pre-1970s or post-1970s but in kind of bad shape. Very delicate, and I’m a moose, so I’ve torn it in a few places.

It’s also got an interesting “double wide” match, which I think it technically called a 1/3 drop match, because it takes three strips to line the pattern up. I learned this, of course, the hard way. But I do believe I have plenty of paper to finish the room. The paper is unpasted and untrimmed (which is great on old uneven walls, as it gives a lot of room for play in the matching).

I plan to finish installation tomorrow!

The price of (im)perfection in ze bath

23 Jul

I saw a post on a blog once where the person very carefully detailed the cost of her bathroom renovation, and I found it very helpful so I thought I’d do my best to recreate the costs incurred and time taken for my six-month bathroom renovation saga.

Here goes:

Paint stripping (beadboard and door): $100 (PeelAway7, gloves, sandpaper, dremel bits, steel wool, paper towels, wire brushes — plus electricity of heat gun). (3 months or so of my labor)

Tin ceiling: $375 (maybe four days total of my labor)

Powder coating: $320 (sink basin, radiator, cast iron sink legs)

Sink legs: $85 (ebay)

Electrical: $250 (wiring for and installation of ceiling pendant, installation of outlet). (one day at start, one hour at finish).

George Nelson Bubble Lamp, vintage, with evocative holes in shade: $50 (CL)

Plumbing: $500 (replace leaking copper/lead blend pipes, relocate sink, remove then replace all plumbing). (3 days at start, 2 days at finish).

Floor tiles: $350 (this is a guess, because I got about 200 tiles at Re-Store for maybe $15, I think the slate and inside tiles cost $250 at a tile shop, but I got them about five years ago and they’d been sitting around, I can’t remember, then the little black and white border was about $50 at the Depot).

Handyman: $1200 (remove entire old floor down to joists, install new sub-floor, install tile floor) (about two weeks, but he was on vacation for part of the time)

Paint: $125 (brown, black, and metallic gold).

F-ing grout and remover: $50 (still not done. !!*%&^!%$@*# grout)

Antique brass faucet: $75 (CL)

Toilet seat: $10 (AJ Wright)

Mirror: $250

Antique brass towel bar, soap dish, tp holder: $190 (Albany salvage yard)

Marble sink, basin, and backsplash: $0 (found in a closet in the house)

Marble shelves: $15 (repurposed threshold from Home Depot and cheapo brackets)

Curtains: $4 (Savers)

Misc. glue, caulk, adhesives, nails, hardware: $100

Baseboard: $35 (Home Depot)

Stain, linseed oil: $0 (in stock in my basement, and there’s still plenty left for next project)

Wallpaper: $0 (Thanks Liz!)

Wallpaper paste: $15


Grand total: $4024
Time: 6 months (not six months of constant 8 hours a day of work, but six months from picking up the heat gun to finished room)
Injuries incurred: one sprained ankle, one sprained finger, numerous cuts, bruises, and burns (nothing requiring professional medical attention)

Because I did this Gudenov-style, I didn’t incur the whole $4000 all at once, and was thus able to afford it. While I can usually scrounge up a couple of a hundred bucks here or there, coming up with all that money at one time is not part of my economic reality. So this piecemeal style works great — I get the job done, even though it takes a long time (and I unfailingly wound myself).

Luckily, my optimistic nature and astonishingly poor memory combine to help me forget the injuries, agony, and annoyance of each project p.d.q. and then I am raring to go on the next one. Bring it on!

Mostly plumbed

20 Jul

The sink is working (yay!) and the plumber tightened a nut on the tub (it was a little leaky after my bath yesterday), but he forgot to get a flapper for the toilet (boo), so I’m going to give flapper replacement the old college try. The plumber can come back if I can’t do it myself. Am off to Home Depot to return tons of excess stuff (and to see if they’ll cut a piece of marble I bought from them and want to make into two shelves).

Painted the outside of the tub black today and it looks great! In other fabulous news, Liz the Magnificent is giving me four rolls of charming old wallpaper that she’d bought for a project at her place and isn’t going to use. I had wanted to use the Candace Wheeler Honeybee paper from Wm. Burrows, but it was going to cost $600, and I told Liz I’d be saving my pennies for *quite* some time, so she looked around in her archives and came up with a lovely, lovely alternative. Just have to figure out a way to seal it. Lots of fun installing the paper around the tub and stuff, too….

I love it up there so much that I’ve repeatedly just sat on the floor and marveled at it. Tonight I’ll be enjoying civilization thusly: clean sheets in a clean bedroom with a clean dog (she doesn’t know this yet) and a nice bath. Now that’s a staycation!

Today’s photos:

Oh sweet mystery of bath at last I’ve found you…

20 Jul

I have rejoined the human race after six weeks of being without a bath. The plumber came and hooked almost everything up (the only thing I really wanted was a bath, and that was done, done, and done). He has to come back tomorrow with a couple of pieces for the sink and the toilet. What incredible joy to sit and soak and look at all the changes in the bathroom. I gazed at the golden glazed ceiling, admired the ingenious under-sink construction, blinked under the glow of the ceiling light — ahhhhhh.

Please note the glowing haze around the photos — I think the bathroom is happy to be done with all that dreadful white. I will paint the outside of the tub black very soon and clean the inside of it. That should make the old house even more happy. It definitely does not look like a new installation.

Funnily, two friends who do not share my taste in interior decor each remarked (on independent visits), “oh, I really like your bathroom” back when it was white and offending my very being at every turn (while clearly the rest of my house was offending their very beings).

What a relief to be able to bathe! Now I just have to strip the paint off the door (it’s sitting outside awaiting my ministrations), chip away at the excess grout, get the glass people out here to put in a mirror and save up my sheckels for the wallpaper.

I LOVE IT!!! In other noteworthy news, the bathroom was the last remaining room to be renovated in the house (other than the major plumbing needed to install an additional bathroom on the top floor — totally beyond my economic reality for the foreseeable future). The only remaining *new* interior work to be done is the hallways — a big, messy, costly, and time consuming job, but the last one — hooray!

Countdown to plumbing!

19 Jul

The plumber should be here in about half an hour. You can sense Claudette’s anticipation. I got the ceiling painted, the baseboard painted, gave the wood an extra coating of linseed oil, and got all the junk out of the window…. Oh, bath, how I’ve missed you!