Old House Reno

The thing about old houses, is that you may think that you can focus on the fun stuff – the decorating and fluffing…. and follow a plan. You can’t. Old houses have their own plans for you.

We are not quite finished the kitchen yet, and I thought that after we had finished the kitchen, we would get to the front doorway, which is needing some zip and order, or the living room, that needs it’s wallpaper stripped. But no….not yet.

It has been cold here on and off, and then warm. It can’t figure out whether it’s winter or spring. We have a small 2 piece bathroom that is somewhat ’90s in style, but mostly functional. It was the lowest on our priority list for renovation.

The other night, the cold water pipe froze in this bathroom. We tried running the hot water tap next to it. We tried using a blow dryer set on hot on the walls. (Now we know why there is a heater and thermostat in this room.) Unfortunately all of this happened in the middle of the night, when plumbers are at a premium.

After a few hours of delirious blow drying of walls, we gave up and made a hole in the wall near where we thought the pipe would be behind the wall. We could see the pipe a little bit, but still couldn’t heat up the pipe enough. So then we knocked a hole in the LedgeStone that had been installed behind the sink. We blow dried there. Still no luck.

Built in cabinet – hole in the wall bottom left where we thought the pipe was, now expertly covered in cardboard, blue duct tape and green painter’s tape.

As it happens, we didn’t need to be so worried. What would be the worst that happened if the pipe froze and burst? The pipe is actually over a crawl space, and we could turn the water off to the house if we needed to. So the damage of a pipe burst would be limited to that room and the crawl space below. Still nasty, but not the whole house. We weren’t thinking this way at the time.

Still panicked, and after a night of stressful wall-hole-making and blow drying of pipes we called a plumber, being careful not to call anyone we knew, as we didn’t want to ask for free work. The 1-800 number that we called, dispatched exactly the very nice plumber that we didn’t want to bother, who promptly applied an electrical device to the pipe and within an hour had the pipe defrosted. He advised that the pipe regularly froze for the previous home-owners and recommended leaving the cold water tap running a little whenever the temperature drops below freezing for too long.

Well, now we have an excuse to paint and reno this bathroom, which previously didn’t appear to need any work. I’m actually happy about this – but it does change our priorities.

My husband dressed in my gardening knee pads and his work gloves – ready for action

The elements of this bathroom:

Warm but depressing beige paint. Just a bit too dark for a small windowless room.

Lighting and mirror – kind of 1990s, but I am Ok with them.

Toilet – too low, and does not flush well!

Molding – badly applied – not in keeping with the rest of the house – gappy and not attached well. We have some 10″ molding leftover from our kitchen renovation – I hope there is enough!

Hardware – 1990s

Taps – look kind of vintage – good enough!

Pedestal sink covered in broken drywall and ledgestone

Pedestal sink – I wanted this sink in 1980, but now I don’t love it. It juts 25″ into the room, and it does give you visual space below, but still I’m not sold on it. My husband loves it.

Floor – vinyl over asbestos vinyl. I have been thinking of doing penny round white tiles in this bathroom and the adjoining side-entranceway.

Ledgestone wall on about to be removed

Storage – birch toned wooden builtin – works well but it’s a bit home-made – has to be jiggled to sit level!

LedgeStone wall – I think these look great in modern and mid-century modern homes, but in this tight bathroom – for some reason the kids are always scratching their knuckles on the brick – I’m not sure why. Now that it has a big hole in it – It’s going. My husband has armed himself with a sledge hammer and pry bar and dressed in protective gear!

Hole in the drywall – I would kind of like to take out the drywall and storage unit, but my husband is voting against this……. for now. I think we could get a few extra inches of space if we removed them, but then we’d have to deal with other issues I’m sure. I can see another wall covered with wallpaper 6″ behind the hole in the wall. Usually there is some awkward reason something was built strangely – but not always!

Partially removed LedgeStone behind pedestal sink.

So now we are shopping for tiles and toilets! We ordered some white penny round tile, a white grout that apparently doesn’t need sealing. (I find this hard to believe, but I’m pretty excited about that). I had previously thought that the grout would have to be charcoal or brown cover to hide the future dirt – but if this really going to be stain free….it will be a miracle and I will try it for sure!

After a night of frustration, I’m excited to get started on a new project.

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4 thoughts on “Old House Reno

  1. Hang in there! I look forward to seeing the finished product. It reminds me of when we gutted the bathroom in our old house. (We have since moved to a newer house. Fewer problems but less of the charm.) There were old newspapers from decades ago, beneath the flooring. I was fascinated by them, but many were pee stained (yuck).

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