Master Bath Remodel

Installing the Walls

Posted on September 23, 2013. Filed under: Home, Master Bath Remodel |

Well, in keeping with the wall theme, here’s another post for you about the all-important home feature:

The walls. They’re kind of a big deal.

We were not anticipating how much time installing walls would take. It took us about a month. (Most of our work is relegated to weekends. If you have the flexibility or the energy to work on a project like this during the week, you’re bound to finish it sooner than we did – and we’re jealous of you.) I thought it would take one weekend. I was very, very wrong.

It requires accurate measuring, a lot of cutting, heavy lifting and then having 2 people at install – one person to hold the board and one to screw it in. Although, Adam completed the whole shower while I was out of town by nailing wood “shelves” to the studs to hold his cement board while he screwed it in. That’s dedication and ingenuity.

But before we could even get started with the sheetrock and cement board, we had to add new support for our new and rather large medicine cabinet.


This was added time I didn’t anticipate.

We also had to install our shower shelves.


And then things got annoying because we didn’t have studs where we wanted the cement board to end and the sheetrock to begin. That was a tad problematic. After a trip to Lowes for a few 2 x 4’s, we installed additional studs for our wall transitions.

Guess what? Then we had to re-route the wiring, unwire, and re-wire the switch so the electrical could go through the new studs. Ah… the beauty of home renovation projects…

Several hours later – or maybe days – we started to actually install the walls.

There was no cement board in here before – it was mesh and mortar behind the tile – so we added new cement board and we replaced nearly all of the sheetrock. There was some sheetrock that was salvageable, but most of it had some major dents, scratches, puckers, spackle scars, or years of dampness that needed replacing.

Once the curb was finished, we were ready to install walls: sheetrock for painted walls and cement board for tiled walls.

That meant installing cement board from the floor to the ceiling in the shower, on both sides of the knee wall and the top of it, and on the sink/toilet wall from the floor to 48” high.


And cut the cement board to frame them out.


The hardest wall was of course this one:


It has 3 cut-outs: 1) the vanity light, 2) the medicine cabinet, and 3) the outlet. I messed it up the first time. So we had to cut it again. Nice one, Meredith. It took us half a day to do that one piece. The second time around, we scored the cut-out for the medicine cabinet and punched it out after we installed the wall. This kept the wall strong and sturdy during its trip from the garage to the bathroom. It also allowed us to manhandle it into position without breaking pieces off of it. Once you cut out a big chunk, it really weakens the wall until you can screw it into the studs.

We cut all of our wallboards in the garage because they make A LOT of dust. The cement boards were cut with a masonry blade on the table saw and we cut the sheetrock with a utility knife. It took two of us to get the larger boards in position, one of us to hold it, and the other to screw it in.

Around the window and door, we pried the trim off to get underneath it. We were able to do this without breaking it, so we will reinstall it once it’s time.


We kept the sheetrock on the ceiling, though it needed repair work on the edges and around our new vent fan.

After 3 weeks of wall install, we began the tedious process of mud, sand, tape; mud, sand, repeat. Of course the sheetrock required more finesse than the cement board. It took us about a week and 3-4 coats of mud. Each coat requires 24 hours of dry time, so we sanded and mudded throughout the week when we could. Public service announcement #1: close your doors, stuff a towel under your door, open your windows and wear masks while sanding sheetrock mud. It is DUHHHH-STEEE.

For the cement board, we used thin set in the seams, metal mesh tape made for cement board, and more thin set. It didn’t have to be perfectly smooth since we are tiling over it. For the corners, screw heads, and around the shower shelves, we used silicone to create a moisture barrier.

With the thin set dry in the shower, we began waterproofing with a liquid water proofing membrane called RedGuard.


It’s very thick, but you can roll it on with the proper nap roller. It took 2 coats with 90 minutes of drying time between coats. Public service announcement #2: wear a mask, safety glasses, gloves, and ventilate the heck out of your room. This stuff smells like a nail salon spilled all of its acrylic – in your nostrils. It’s not for everyone – let me tell you. With a high nap roller, I applied the first coat of RedGuard in up and down motions and the second with side-to-side motions. It’s supposed to seal it off better.


This stuff looks like Pepto Bismol pudding when it’s wet, but it dries neon red.


I kept coming up behind Adam while he was looking at my finished work growling, “Red room, red room!” I was high on fumes.

There are a few decisions you have to make in this stage of the process that I didn’t really think about before-hand: where you want your wall tile in the shower to end on the outside edges and where you want your shower shelves.

Our wall tile will overlap the outer-edge of the curb and half wall by an inch or two. We figured that it would be easier to intentionally overlap it than try to line it up and make a mistake. We wanted to put the shower shelves opposite the shower head/valve and there was only one place horizontally it could go: between two studs. It’s not exactly centered on the wall, but that’s okay. Then we hung the shelves at a height that made sense for us and the potentially taller people that might buy our house one day.

We’ve started to put most of our tools away and we’ve run the shop vacuum about 20 times in the bathroom in preparation of the tile. Yes, that’s right. Our next step will be tiling the shower shelves and walls. I’m so darn excited about it. With walls and tile, we’re starting to picture what it will look like.

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We are Living in a Material World…

Posted on September 3, 2013. Filed under: Home, Master Bath Remodel, Purdy Things |

…And I’m picking out some gorgeous items for our master bathroom renovation!

After about a dozen stores for bathrooms, faucets, tile, stone, flooring, etc., we’ve finally picked out the majority of our materials at the first place we went to (go figure) and I’m here to share them with all of you eager and aspiring bathroom renovators.

1. Floor tile

I had to have basket weave floor in one of our upstairs bathrooms. It makes me giddy. It’s a good thing Adam likes it too. I really like how this particular pattern is subtle and the Carrara marble has the gray, green/blue colors we were looking for. See those little accent pieces? Perfection.

floor tileSorry for the blurry iPhone picture

We actually decided to carry this tile over into the shower floor for cohesion and in an attempt to make the space seem bigger. Gasp! I’m surprised myself. I hate cleaning shower floors, but everyone has assured me that the new tile and grout will be much different than my 50 year old shower floor that is stained, not sealed, and just plain OLD.

Believe you me, if this shower floor situation doesn’t work out, I’ll tell you all about it and go to therapy. I’m slightly nervous.

2. Shower wall tile

Oversized subway tiles in Carrara marble for the walls of the shower. Tres chic. So pretty. They’re fairly large at 8×20”. Apparently big tiles cheat the space and make it seem larger. So do lighter colors. It will really brighten it up in here. I hope it looks bigger than it does now. We’re going to grout with a light gray to bring out all the veins in the marble and because I don’t want to clean white grout. Just keeping it real…

3. Accent wall tile

Same material as the shower tile – Carrara marble – but smaller in size at 4×12”. We’ll tile about 4 feet up the wall behind the sink and toilet, add a pencil border, this accent border of mixed glass and marble, a pencil border and a ledge piece, and call it a day. The tile will carry over to the half wall.

4. Counter top

We haven’t decided on the counter top yet, but we think we are going with quartz. It’s a very durable material and great for bathrooms and kitchens. Plus, it’s very versatile and comes in all colors and patterns. Yes, we have marble tile everywhere, but I was hesitant to have a marble counter top in a bathroom with lots of beauty products and curling irons that would inevitably make contact. These are the my top picks for counters in no particular order: marble-like, looks like Corian to me, probably the best match to our marble (I don’t think it has to match, just coordinate), a little bling and pizzazz with this one. Of course I’m leaning toward the sparkly one, but I haven’t seen any of these in person. Since we need such a small piece, I may be picking from the scrap pile anyway and my options might be limited. Then again, I don’t know if they have scrap piles for manufactured quartz since it’s – well – manufactured. I doubt they make a lot of extra.

5. Vanity

vanityImage from Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets

I ordered unfinished to save money and because I really like this vanity! We couldn’t find anything we liked that was ready to install. We plan to rent a paint sprayer from Lowes or Home Depot. I’d like to paint it a dove gray. We’ll finish it off with some satin nickel cabinet knobs.

6. Vanity Light

In my mood board, I used a fixture from Shades of Light which I lurrrve.

bygoneImage from Shades of Light

It’s down to $135 from $150 which isn’t bad, but isn’t great when you’ve spent most of your budget on marble tile. So I did some more browsing and looky what I found at the neighborhood Lowes:

sea gullImage from Lowes

Pretty darn similar, I say. Real close. So close that I don’t have a clear favorite. So I went with the cheaper option that wouldn’t have to be delivered. Plus, it comes in a satin nickel which will match the rest of our fixtures. It was a win win.

7. Fixtures: sink and shower

We didn’t pay near this much! Thank goodness! You’ve got to love amazon! But fixtures are one thing you don’t really want to skimp on. It’s very difficult to fix plumbing later on without ruining all your tile work. Who likes a leaky faucet anyway?

Brushed stainless steel, traditional with a modern twist. You gotta love it! It sure beats what was in there:



8. Storage solutions

medicine cabinetImage from Lowes

We’ll be getting a much larger and less industrial looking medicine cabinet. Hurrah!

shelvesImage from Grandin Road

Grandin Road makes this awesome shelf caddy that you mount into your door hinges. We’re still thinking about it. We may be able to get along without it. It is a pretty nifty design, but it’s expensive.

We’ll also get some wall-mounted shelves for over the toilet – TBD. I’m excited.

Bathroom accessories like towel bars and hooks will be a brushed nickel, but we haven’t picked them out yet since those are some of the last things to install.

And this is how we felt after buying our tile:

tile shock

It was painful. We did save a ton of moolah by buying it from The Tile Shop during their Memorial Day sale.  I plan to go to HomeGoods, World Market, and Hobby Lobby for vanity knobs, towel hooks, bath mat, etc. We plan to make a structured valance for the window ourselves and I’ll try to snag some sale fabric for that.

Does anyone want to help us grout? That basket weave floor has a lot of grout lines! It’s going to be so much fun!

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Pesky Projects within a Project

Posted on August 26, 2013. Filed under: Home, Master Bath Remodel, Real World |

I had the pleasure of having my impacted wisdom teeth surgically removed in late June. I thought I had passed the point in my life where wisdom teeth would present problems. It’s a little unusual for wisdom teeth to pop up at 27 years old, don’t you think? Maybe this means I’m immature and going to live longer.

I’d rather be ironing, cleaning dirty toilets, or going to work, than to suffer the aftermath of oral surgery. But I had my mommy, husband, and great friends to help see me through it. Spoiler alert: I made it through. Thanks for all the milkshakes, ice cream, soups, Jell-O, DVDs, flowers, and books.

For you sick souls that want to see pictures of me bruised and puffy, you’re out of luck. No such things exist (at least that I’m aware of) and you’ll just have to use your imagination. I looked like a chipmunk with chapped lips. It was oh-so attractive.

While I was laid up on the couch with all the 2013 Oscar-winning movies, Pretty Little Liars, old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Dawson’s Creek, Scandal, a bunch of books, and trashy magazines (I laid on the couch for 5 days, okay?), my husband was sodding the yard and working on our bathroom.

My dad was a huge help with the wiring. Huge. Though our bathroom is pretty small, it is nice to have 2 people work at once.

This is what the bathroom looked like after the demolition:


Then Adam built a knee wall:


the plumber came, and the shower pan man.


With any home project, there are lots of surprises and small things you have to do, that you never considered. Here are some of those things for us so far in our bathroom renovation adventure.

Unexpected task #1:

Repair the subfloor in one place. It was uneven and unsupported over the duct and my handy husband fixed that.

Unexpected task #2:

Replace the old insulation

Unexpected surprise #1:

An empty bottle of corn whiskey



That might explain this random hole in the floor.


Our home builder was under the influence. Nice…

Everyone that sees it thinks they cut the hole for the toilet in the wrong place.

Back to the insulation, I replaced it while wearing my gloves, safety goggles and mask (recommended on the packaging).

Expected task:

We framed out the knee wall between the plumber’s visit and the shower pan man. This is the half wall that will separate the shower stall from the vanity like so:

half wallImage courtesy of

The placement of the knee wall took a lot of hemming and hawing, me waving my arms around to make sure I could still wash my back and shave my legs, all while making sure the shower wouldn’t be too small. Professionals we are not.

Adam used two by fours and nailed together a nice frame. Since the floor isn’t quite level, we had to shim it. We also placed tar paper underneath it for moisture protection since it would be against the shower. Then Adam secured it to the floor joists and wall studs.

Then our shower pan man came to do the base.

Expected task:

Once the base was dry, we were ready for electrical – specifically wiring our new vent fan and can light over the shower. That’s when my dad came to help. He’s an electrical engineer and knows all about this stuff.

Unexpected surprise #2:

We were sidetracked when my dear husband went into the attic to run the wire and smelled something funky. He smelled something funky after I heard high-pitched squeaking for a week. And then he saw them.

batsImage courtesy of

This is not our house, but we had bats roosting in our gable vent. BLECH! and EEEEEEE! A call to the wildlife removal people and $500 later, we’re bat and guano free. Sometimes it blows being a homeowner. Unfortunately we had to smell the guano in our master closet and bedroom for 2-3 days before the bats all went out their one-way door. Then the crew came to vacuum and disinfect.

Luckily, Adam was able to run the wire through the walls without having to go into the attic.

We purchased a new vent fan because the other one was loud and not very effective. This one is 90 CPM and a lot quieter. The vanity light was the only light in here before so we decided to install a can light over the shower and wire it to the same switch. We installed a double switch with the lights on one switch and the fan on the other. Big deal, right? It is when your switches looked like this before:


Two switches, on either side of a stud, crooked and offset. Fun times.

I would explain the wiring to you except I have no idea how to do it. Sorry.

Unexpected task #3:

Once the wiring was complete, we had to figure out how to build a shower curb because we weren’t too gung-ho about the one our shower pan guy built. I thought he put the 2 x 4’s there as a temporary curb so he could have them to build up the mud pan. At least that’s what he told me. Then when he was done, he said he screwed them into the floor, glued them together, and attached the liner to them. What? Yeah. So we had to go back and re-do it because it wasn’t up to our expectations. That’s the dilemma with home projects. You feel like you need to hire out for certain things because you’re paying an experienced professional to do it, but the only way to ensure that a job is well done is to do it yourself. Live and learn.

Basically, the curb’s dimensions were dictated by the width of the knee wall (adjacent to the curb) with cement board plus the height of the marble skirting tile we got for the sides. We wanted everything to be flush – or on the same plane.

After some diligent research, Adam decided to build the curb with a combination of bricks, mortar, lathe, and construction mud. It’s a lot more water resistant than wood – obviously. First he had to disassemble the shoddy curb the shower pan man made:


It took forever because the professional we hired stripped all the screws he used. The irony was not lost on us. You can tell how happy we are with his work, right?

First Adam laid down tarpaper, pulled the liner to the floor, used one row of bricks and mortar. He waited for the first row to set up and went back to do the second row. Once the second row had set up, he took the liner that was under the curb and guided it to the outer edge of the curb. Then he bent metal lathe over the bricks and used u-shaped nails to affix it to the mortar. Adam mixed the mud in a 5 gallon bucket and created a form with shims and 1 x 6 boards to keep the mud square, smooth, and the correct thickness. Then he filled in the form with mud, on the inside first and then on the outside. The lathe is used to give the mud something to stick to. The mud will stick to the bricks on the inside, but not to the liner we guided underneath and around on the outside. That’s where the lathe helps.

We allowed the curb to set-up for 24 hours before touching it.


Whew! God bless home renovation projects and the can of worms that accompanies them. Or in our case, the attic full of bats.

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The Shower Pan Man (and the Plumber) to the Rescue!

Posted on August 12, 2013. Filed under: Home, Master Bath Remodel, Real World |

Remember Nasty McShowerson?



Yep. Mr. Nasty. Disgusting. It’s a miracle there wasn’t any mold underneath.


You saw in my demo post how Adam went about destroying practically everything in here. It was cathartic. We eradicated the nastiness.

And a little side story… The junk removal folks took most of the old bathroom debris to the dump. They’ll stop by and give you a quote and you have two options: 1) accept and they’ll haul everything away, or 2) decline and no charge for the quote, but you’re still left with your junk. We accepted.

We did salvage a few items for recycling:

1. Hutch – we plan to list on craigslist

2. Vanity – ditto

3. Shower doors – we are going to try to recycle

There is so much glass; it doesn’t feel right throwing them away. Once this bathroom adventure is over and I have some time to research, I’ll let you know if we recycled and how you go about it.

Back on topic… Before we could address our shower pan, we called in a plumber to check everything out while the bathroom was down to the studs. We’re all about DIY, but we know when to fold ‘em. It was worth it for us to have an expert assess our 49-year-old pipes. We actually got 2 quotes from 2 different plumbers so we could compare. The first plumber told us we needed to replace our shower p-trap (the old one is lead and gross… and OLD) and the galvanized steel water lines. We asked him to move our shower head higher, convert our shower fixture from 2 valves to 1 valve and lower our toilet flange since we were afraid it would be higher than the new floor.


I liked the first plumber a lot and thought they gave us a pretty reasonable quote. They knew what they were talking about and they gave off good vibes. I’m all about good vibes. Then I called in a larger plumbing company for the second estimate and was underwhelmed to say the least. First of all they wanted $100 for an estimate. I got out of that by telling them I already had another free quote from a plumber and I’d just hire him if they couldn’t waive the fee. It worked like a charm.

The second plumber wanted me to tell him what we wanted done. Excuse me? I know nothing about pipes and drains. That’s why I called you in here. I basically told him I wanted him to tell me what we should do. Let me tell you, I was not impressed. He didn’t bring up our old galvanized steel water lines and told us our p-trap needed to be snaked, not replaced. He didn’t even recognize that it was lead and no snake could tackle 50 years of build-up. After all of that, his estimate was $250 more expensive than our first quote and it was for less work, work done by a moron.

Once we decided on the plumber (easy decision), he came out to do his work before we put up the backer board: he raised the shower head, changed the shower fixture to 1 valve, replaced the galvanized steel pipes with copper, replaced the p-trap and the entire shower drain with PVC, etc. He’ll come back again once we’re finished tiling to lower the toilet flange and install the sink fixtures. He was amazing. If you ever need a plumber in the Atlanta area, message me and I’ll get you the contact information. He even went to Lowes to get another pipe because he didn’t like how one of them looked. That’s dedication.

Then we called in the Shower Pan Man! True story. I was pretty disappointed he didn’t have a cape when he showed up. Yet again, we’d rather pay an experienced professional to slope the base and install the liner for our shower floor since waterproofing and drainage are so crucial. I figured he knew just how to slope the mortar and still make it look right. I know my husband could’ve done this portion of the project, but I reasoned it was worth it to pay someone more experienced to do it. Plus, if the shower leaks, we can go back to him.



So this is what the shower floor looked like pre-tile. Lots of sloped concrete. There’s a rubber liner in there too to keep the moisture from seeping to the sub-floor. (This was a phone picture and I have no idea why it’s so small.)

shower pan

The next step is building a proper curb with bricks and mortar and installing cement board.

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It’s Demolition Time!

Posted on July 10, 2013. Filed under: Home, Master Bath Remodel |

It’s crazy at our house! I mean there’s a black hole off of our bedroom with some pretty scary stuff going on in there. And be warned, this post is a doozy at nearly 2,000 words – WITH editing.

We finally put on our big girl and boy panties, swallowed our fear, grabbed our hammers, and tore it all up in our master bathroom. Blue bathroom, meet your destroyers:


It was exhausting – for one of us (cough, cough… Adam)

I was the clean-up crew. I was tired, but not nearly as tired as my main man who had to chip away at mortar all weekend.

How we Prepped:

Wednesday and Thursday we moved from the master into the hall bath. We’re lucky that we have another full bathroom to use during the renovation. I hate getting ready in the gym enough as it is. The move didn’t take too long and required us to box up some things we don’t use very often – fancy soaps, unopened toiletries, etc. – to store in the basement. I’m ashamed to admit that I found a plethora of unopened toiletries. We don’t need to re-stock for a while.

On Friday night we cut off the water to the bathroom, emptied out the remaining items,


removed the hutch, the toilet, the sink and vanity, the shower shelves, the blinds, the medicine cabinet, and the shower doors plus their track.

We used an old rag to plug up the toilet drain and taped over it like it was nobody’s business. I don’t know about you, but I don’t EVER want to smell that. We covered the exhaust fan and the AC vent so they wouldn’t suck up demolition dust.

On demolition day, Adam ate his Wheaties, gathered his tools, put on his gloves, goggles and mask and headed to the work site. I lovingly taped him in with a plastic sheet and painters tape.

While he began beating up the bathroom, I rolled up our area rug, laid down a canvas drop cloth, and covered the wood floor out to the stairs in craft paper.


Call me excessive, but I didn’t want anything happening to our floors and the less clean-up later, the better.



We really didn’t know what to expect, but we prepared ourselves for finding all sorts of nasty behind those walls. We suspected our tile was attached to the wall with mesh and mortar. That’s not good, people. The article about removing mesh and mortar on says “[the removal of] wall tile mortar and mesh can range from hard to very hard.” Wow. Thanks. We figured we were in for a treat.

A little sneak peek on Friday night confirmed our worst fears:


Yes. That’s about 1.5-2” of concrete on wire mesh. Fun times.

That’s what the backside of mesh and mortar tile looks like.

Adam used a crowbar, a normal hammer, a 6 lb. hammer, and a lot of brute strength, blood and sweat to break off all of the ceramic wall tiles. They hardly ever came off whole, but in itty bitty pieces. Because it didn’t take long for Adam to be standing in a pile of rubble, he would take a break from destruction and I would enter the hazard zone with my mask, goggles, and gloves to help bag up the debris. We used contractor bags we bought at Lowes, but we couldn’t even fill them halfway because they would be too heavy to carry.


If you think all of this sounds strenuous, try carrying 30 bags weighing 50+ pounds full of concrete and ceramic down a half flight of stairs and across the front yard to our parking pad. My poor husband will probably be in traction for a week. Adam says that hauling the debris out of the house was the worst part. We had to stop every hour or so to bag it or Adam wouldn’t have had solid ground to stand on.

Once Adam had the wall tile removed, he started to tug on the mesh. Please wear heavy gloves if you ever meet wire mesh. The mesh is very sharp. It was nailed to the studs in a billion places so if it didn’t budge by pulling, Adam pried the nails off with the hammer or crowbar. He rolled it up and laid it on the canvas drop cloth. We bundled it up and carried each blob of mesh out in the canvas to protect our hands. That $20 drop cloth was the best purchase ever. It really came in handy for carrying the mesh out of the house.

After day one this is where we were at:




All of the wall tile was gone, about half of the wire mesh, and some sheetrock.

On day two we started later because we were slightly tired and we weren’t as excited to jump back in the ring. Gee, I wonder why? Adam began to break up the floor tile with the 6 lb. hammer and we thought everything was going well until we realized that what we saw under the tile was not subfloor, but 3” of concrete. Our bathroom was a bunker. We cannot believe our bathroom didn’t fall to the ground floor already.

A call to Adam’s dad for advice and my subsequent trip to the Home Depot tool rental department brought us an electric jackhammer.


I foretold this when I mentioned nothing was going to clean our shower tile except for a jackhammer. I was right.

Rewind here though. Picture me all dusty, no make-up, hair all frizzed out at the Home Depot rental center, standing at the tool chest perplexed because the guy tells me I get to pick out bits for the jackhammer. Say what?! Of course this resulted in some picture messages to Adam with lots of question marks. I played it safe and got a sharp pointy one and one that was more wedge shaped with a sharp edge – like a flathead screwdriver, but giant. Oh those unpredictable experiences. . .

Once we had the jackhammer, things went A LOT faster. Now we know for the next bathroom remodel that we should start with this puppy right away. It was the smallest jackhammer at Home Depot and it still did the job. Adam used the sharp, pointy bit to poke holes in the tiles.


It broke everything up in about 2 hours through a combination of the bit plus all the vibrations. (Note: secure all breakables, wall art in adjoining rooms and anything below the room you’re jackhammering.) That time included all the pausing we had to do, yet again, to clear out the debris.

The biggest obstacle was the shower curb. This thing would have survived Armageddon. It was ensconced in the shower membrane (which we discovered after tile and 3 inches of mortar of course is made out of LEAD and it’s extremely heavy). I think the membrane would also serve as an emergency dinghy in case of a flood if you want lead poisoning. It was heavy-duty, guys. But back to the curb… The curb had the normal amount of tile and mortar on the outside (a lot), but it was solid concrete on the inside. You should have heard Adam when he finally cracked it open. I think his words were, “they put f*## bricks in here!” Well, he was right:


On closer inspection and after I vented my frustration on the curb with the 9 lb. hammer (even the jack hammer wasn’t doing much damage to this thing), it was nearly impossible to tell whether they were bricks or poured terracotta. But our research told us it’s common to fill shower curbs with bricks. Go figure. Adam and I took turns beating the crap out of the curb until we finally got it broken down.

We shoveled and shoveled and broke up the shower tile. And let me tell you something. Not once did we find any mold. Not once. I was shocked. But the mortar in the shower was wet. In the last half-century, I bet it’s been wet more often than it’s been dry and that’s gross. But that’s how mud showers are designed. Adam suspects with the Zodiac boat membrane and the 3 inches of concrete, the builders figured nothing would leak. I guess they weren’t too concerned about the wet mildew smell it would emit after 50 years’ worth of showers.

We finally managed to get most of the tile and concrete out of the lead shower pan. Yes, I said lead. That was the norm in 1964. Adam pried it up with a crow bar and pushed and rolled it in on itself. We used heavy-duty scissors to cut the membrane around the drain to loosen it up. We determined it was way too heavy for me to carry with Adam so we left it for another day.


By this time, it was 7:00 p.m. Adam removed the rest of the mesh and I started shoveling up leftover bits of concrete. We took several loads outside and I told Adam to go sit down while I cleaned up.

Clean-up was a lot of scooping up concrete bits with a dust pan, sweeping, and using the shop vac to suck up dust. I did find a lot of these guys in the wall behind the medicine cabinet:


I didn’t know this, but people used to shove their used razor blades into a slot in their medicine cabinet and the blades would collect between the walls. I guess this was for safety so no one would cut themselves if the blades went into the garbage. Personally, I think it’s gross. There were tons of them.

Once I had a great deal of dust and debris up, I peeled up the last layer of mesh and what looked like roofing shingles to reveal the subfloor. Then I vacuumed some more.

The next day a good friend helped Adam remove the pan and this is what we had:




Despite using plastic sheeting to block off the bathroom, there was still tons of dust in our bedroom from our frequent trips in and out for hauling. So at 9:00 pm I was using the shop vac, the regular vacuum, dusting, and a swiffer to get rid of as much dust as I could.

We covered our bed with a big blanket, so we didn’t have any dust on the bed, thank goodness. But it was pretty much everywhere else.

The next few nights after work, we hauled out the remaining bags and pulled hundreds of nails out of the studs.



We also plan to replace the insulation. I vacuumed every night for a week to get rid of the dust. We were very sore, but pretty proud of our progress.

So if you’re ever thinking of renovating your mid-century bathroom, this post will probably scare you off. Don’t let us discourage you. We still managed to do it in one weekend.

Now that the bathroom is down to the studs, we’ve got to fill ‘er back up again. I can’t wait to show you what we have picked out for this blank slate!

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Bathroom Smorgasbord

Posted on June 25, 2013. Filed under: Home, Master Bath Remodel |

I admit that I’m slightly compulsive. I’d like to think that I like to keep busy rather than I’m a compulsive freak. I find a project to focus on and pour all of my energy into that whether it’s planning a trip, training a puppy, whipping up some curtains, launching an exercise plan, or plotting our next home renovation project.

As you know, we’ve been plotting and planning and crunching numbers and tile shopping. I’ve been pinning like crazy, spending a lot of my leisure time on Pinterest or Houzz or Google images trying to get visuals for what exactly we want.

I’m driving the design train here but I run everything by Adam. He has veto power. After a few weeks of research and window shopping, I think we have a good idea of design aesthetic for both bathrooms. Yes, we’re redoing both of them, but not at once. We’d prefer to shower in our own home and not at the YMCA down the street. In my dreams, I’d like to finish both bathroom remodels by the first week of December. It’s an unrealistic goal, but it sure would be nice. We’ll see how it goes.

So without further ado here is the mood board for the first victim, the master bathroom…



  1. Carrara Marble shower surround and frameless doors
  2. Cultured marble shower pan
  3. Biltmore Niles Polished Marble Basket weave floor tile (Tile Shop)
  4. Valspar Halcyon Blue paint or similar
  5. Home Decorators Collection Hampton Bay 28” W vanity (The Home Depot) or similar
  6. Sonoma Recessed Medicine Cabinet  or similar (Pottery Barn)
  7. ByGone Classic 3-Light Bath Light (Shades of Light)
  8. Moen Weymouth Fixtures in Brushed Nickel
  9. Moen Weymouth Fixtures in Brushed Nickel
  10. Concealed Door Storage (Grandin Road)

Our plan in here is to do basket weave floors (they make me salivate), pale gray walls, Carrara marble subway tile up the wall behind the sink, retro-inspired fixtures, gray or white vanity, white quartz countertop, frameless shower doors, large Carrara rectangles for the shower walls, recessed shelving over the toilet, new vanity light, and new towel racks and hooks. Of course, we’re not married to the items above but they give us a good idea of the aesthetic we’re shooting for.

What do you think? I’ve talked myself off the ledge so many times about using marble in a bathroom, but I cannot walk away from it. I want a gray, blue/seafoam color scheme in here and faux marble tiles don’t cut it for me. Everyone I’ve talked to say the new sealers are way better than they used to be, so I’m going to trust.

Anybody have experience with marble in a bathroom?

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