Half-Bathroom Renovation is Underway!

Today our contractor started work on our half-bathroom renovation! I wanted to pop in on this ol’ dusty blog to let you know that I will be posting progress shots on Instagram Stories – if you’re interested, you should check out those before they expire. I’m @martipalermo. I’ll do blog posts as well after the fact, so no worries if you’re not on Instagram.

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While I have you here, I thought I’d share some before pics of the bathroom and point out a few things I’m excited to change.

First Floor Bathroom.jpg

To be honest, this half-bath is fine. Everything is working, and it’s relatively modern (remodeled within the past 20 years). It’s not glaringly ugly but, to quote this blog’s namesake, it’s a full-on Monet: from far away, it’s OK, but up close…

Half Bath Monet.jpg

Ugh. Beige tile town.

Half Bath Toilet Before.jpg

The bathroom is small: smaller than 4′ x 8′. Because it’s tucked next to/under our stairs, there are odd ~features~ that make the square footage even more limited. There’s this angled wall, which I can fit under perfectly.

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And this support post bump-out.

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The tile job reminds me of Pokey from Mario Brothers.

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We can’t do anything to change those elements because they’re structural, but I do hope to make them a little more seamless with the rest of the room.

Speaking of seams, this ceiling will be replaced with new drywall. It will fix that ridge you see in the foreground and the stair-step in the background.

Ceiling Ridge 2.jpg

On this wall, the junction box will be lowered to a standard 78″, so the new light fixture won’t crowd the ceiling. The switches and outlet will be moved next to the door, so guests don’t have to fumble looking for them and I can hang a centered, larger mirror.

Half Bath Mirror Before.jpg

This vanity will be replaced with one from IKEA that I am customizing; see vague plans in my last post and a sneak peek on Instagram.

Half Bath Vanity Before.jpg

The sink and the cat are the only things staying! And the cat is on thin ice, so we’ll see about that. (You know what you did, Doozy.)

Half Bath Sink.jpg

More to come!

Bathroom Decision Making

Looks like I am moving forward with the half-bathroom remodel! I hit my savings goal thanks to our tax refund, annual bonus, and squirreling away of money. Now I get to dive into a capital project.

For reference, this is what our bathroom looks like currently:

Bathroom

It’s tucked under the stairs, in the center of our home’s first floor.

Stairs Bathroom

Virtually everything you see will be changed, so I have a lot of decisions to make. It’s equal parts fun and stressful. I’m nowhere near a congealed plan, but I wanted to round up the major choices. Many of you commented in my reader survey that you’d like to see more in-progress details, so here goes.

Floor Tile: Decided!

Marble tile doesn’t feel right to me for a bungalow bathroom, so I zeroed in quickly on porcelain mosaic tile. Here are a few options I considered:

Tile Options.JPG

Jarrod saw the penny tile and said “They don’t fit together!” and now I think he’s right: it’s weird each tile is an island in a sea of grout, instead of being more like a puzzle piece.

I was on the fence on basketweave vs. hexagonal until I stopped to appreciate the tile of the wine shop in the Merchandise Mart, where I work (the Merchandise Mart, that is; I don’t work in the wine shop. I would be terrible at that job, because I am an undiscriminating lush).

Wine Shop Floor.JPG

Simple matte white hex tile with black grout. Worn and imperfect, it still looked beautiful. And, this tile is very common in original bungalow floors. I’ll order it from Wayfair. Decided!

Wall Beadboard: Decided, ugh, Menards

Did you know Menards charges a 25% restocking fee for anything you order from their website? I’m not talking custom orders: just off-the-shelf online orders. I ordered something recently and was vexed – vexed! – to learn this. Don’t worry: I channeled my grandma, pushed back, and was issued a full refund.

Beadboard Sample.jpg

Anyway, I want a v-groove beadboard with wide planks, because it looks more modern, and I want it a few inches taller than the standard 32”. The closest thing I could find to what I have in mind is at Menards, unless any of you lovely readers have a hot tip.

Faucet: Decided, with fingers crossed

I want a matte black fixture, which is a limited pool of options. I plan to reuse our existing sink (to save money and reduce waste, and because I like it), which requires a centerset three-hole faucet – further limiting my pool of options. This MOEN Kingsley Centerset 2-Handle Faucet is The One.

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The cost was hard to swallow, but when it arrived it was clearly worth it. This thing is remarkably heavy. It’s beautiful. My only concern is that the arc of the faucet may make the water stream be too close to the front of our shallow sink. Fingers crossed.

Vanity: 78% chance of success

Our bathroom requires a very shallow sink and vanity. The 14″ x 24″ sink in there now is as big as the space can handle. Hours and hours of perusal of every online store plus lots of local shops did not turn up a wide variety of options.

I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink excluded). I am not opposed to spending that amount of money in general, but a tiny vanity isn’t really where I want to sink my budget.

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Why not a pedestal sink? You see this sink from the side, which is the least attractive part of a pedestal sink due to the supply lines and wall drain (for example). I know there are some nice kits for exposed plumbing, but I’m just not feeling that look here. Also, a vanity is the only opportunity for storage in this bathroom.

So, I am going to use the $109 IKEA SILVERAN vanity as a starting point, and customize it with brass hardware, inky-black paint, and furniture legs.

SILVERAN Cabinet.JPG

I’ll buy the pine version because all of the parts are solid wood. The $89 white one is foil/plastic-coated particleboard, which feels and looks a lot cheaper.

Here are some inspiration photos for the general vibe I’ll be going for, though none of these are exactly the end goal:

Dark Vanity Inspiration

Here’s the tricky party: I need to cut the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 15″ SILVERAN is too deep, and the 9″ version is too shallow. So, that could end in total disaster. I’m willing to risk it, because I’m excited about this idea and I like the challenge.

Wall sconce: So many good options

Schoolhouse Electric – Davis Double Sconce ($199 fixture + $44/shade)

Davis Sconce.jpg

I would get the brass finish with the faceted shades.

Davis Sconce Faceted Shades.jpg

Rejuvenation – Graydon Double Wall Sconce ($399)

Graydon Sconce.jpg

Wade Logan – Rickford 2-Light Wall Sconce ($95); maybe too modern, but sharing because it’s such a good deal!

Rickford Sconce.jpg

Rejuvenation – West Slope Sconce ($399)

West Slope Sconce.jpg

This babe is my favorite by far, but I’m afraid the size options won’t work. 27″ is too wide, and 15″ seems too short.

But first, I have to choose wallpaper.

Wallpaper: All over the goddamn place!

Literally and figuratively all over the place. There are over a dozen wallpaper samples currently taped to our bathroom wall, in a wide range of styles. You know the Crazy Wall trope, where the detective’s obsession with the case is his downfall? That’s me in this bathroom.

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If you’re also on the hunt for good wallpaper, the brands I’ve been looking at include:

My Top 3 contenders are:

York – Stencil Overall (YC3414) (only $14/roll!)York YC3414.jpg

The online photos are so flat and lifeless – ordering samples is necessary to see what they’re really like.

York Stencil Wallpaper.jpg

Don’t worry, that antique bird towel hook is definitely staying. (I used it in our last bathroom.)

York – Ashford House Flower Vine (AK7500) ($14/roll)York AK7500.jpg

Speaking of channeling my grandma! In real life, it looks rich and hand-stenciled.

York Wallpaper AK7500.jpg

Cole & Son – Dialytra ($125/roll, unpasted, which will add a bit to the hanging cost)Cole Dialytra Pattern.jpg

Cole & Sons has the best product photos, which must be what $125 a roll gets you.

Cole Dialytra Paper.jpg

One point of consideration is that there are several awkward corners and angles in this room. A pattern with strict lines may make that more obvious. A botanical print would be more forgiving of the not-perfectly-square space, especially with the sloped wall (due to the overhead stairway).

Here’s a slap-dash, not-to-scale mock-up I put together back when I was thinking I’d do a white vanity, which – now that I’m looking at this – is maybe back on the table. Sigh.

Bathroom Options.png

I’m torn because I want something interesting, but it also needs to vibe with the rest of the first floor. You see it as soon as you come in the front door. I want the bathroom to be interesting when you’re in there, but I don’t want a bathroom to command your attention from our foyer (although I guess we could just keep the door partially shut).

Most importantly, I don’t want to go all wackadoodle just for the sake of punchy After photos.

What’s Left to Decide

Every time I feel like I’m close to having considered all of the decisions I need to make, I remember a ton of other things left to decide.

  • Mirror: Preferably wood and antique, circular or with rounded corners
  • Door
  • Bathroom fan: I have not even looked at the options. Surely this is an easy one? I’ll just buy whatever is rated highest.
  • Art
  • Baseboard and trim

Okay, that’s all for now. I’ll do plenty of other posts detailing the exact budget, final design board, and contractor plans. If you feel strongly about any of these options, please weigh in with a comment!

Thanks so much for all of your feedback on the reader survey – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your funny, thoughtful, and encouraging remarks. It’s made me really excited to keep on blogging, and it’s warmed my paint-it-black heart.

How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity

In my greatest DIY victory to date, I installed an IKEA HEMNES bathroom cabinet, DALSKAR faucet, and ODENSVIK sink (which came with RINNEN plumbing). Note that the title of this blog post is not “How to install an IKEA vanity” but rather “How I installed an IKEA vanity.” This is what worked for me.

I did a ton of Googling throughout this process and found some helpful guides (such as this one) that gave me the confidence to take on this project, but I didn’t find any blog posts that were identical to my situation. IKEA altered their standard plumbing kit significantly recently, so a lot of the information I found was outdated. Also, every home is going to have its own oddities.

This post won’t be of much interest to anyone who isn’t installing an IKEA sink, but I hope it’s helpful for at least one person who is! Specifically, here are the three issues I encountered that you might run into as well:

  • Waste pipe that is 1-1/4″ vs IKEA plumbing that is 1-1/2″
  • Faucet supply lines that are 3/8″ vs IKEA faucet lines that are 9/16″
  • IKEA overflow hose that does not reach the drain

Before buying our house, I had never done any plumbing work. It was daunting because water can be so quickly and so thoroughly ruinous should anything go wrong. I installed our basement sink as a test case, and then tackled this on my own without disaster. If you’re handy and enjoy finding solutions to problems, I think IKEA plumbing is definitely a doable DIY.

Getting started

I started by laying out all of the parts in order. Note: if you buy an IKEA sink and an IKEA faucet, you’ll have a couple of duplicate parts.

IKEA Plumbing Parts.JPG

I warned Jarrod that it may be several days until we had a working sink again. I hoped it would go smoothly, but I was prepared for some hiccups. We have a sink in our first floor half-bathroom, which helped make this a lot less stressful.

I turned off the inline shut-off valves, disconnected the existing sink, and stuck a rag in the wall drain hole to keep the stink contained.

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I assembled the vanity cabinet and Jarrod helped me position it (it was nice to have an extra set of hands here, but not necessary — this can be a one-woman project). I adjusted the screw-in feet until it was level. Our floor slopes, so the right self-adjusting foot is extended quite a bit more than the left.

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Once it was precisely placed and leveled, I marked off the four spots I’d need to drill and then moved the vanity out of the bathroom.

Drilling into granite tile

If you don’t have granite wall tiles, mounting the vanity will be pretty easy. If you do have granite tiles, like we do, I’m sorry. Drilling into granite is totally doable, but it’s time-consuming and expensive! The bits are made of diamonds and run $20+ each at Home Depot. It sounds like even the nice ones wear down quickly, requiring multiple bits to do the job. Having learned that, I chose to buy two cheap sets from Amazon. $22 total for 10 bits, and I wound up using every single one.

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I sprayed the area with water continuously while drilling (sorry, no pics). After the holes were drilled, I put the vanity back in place.

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The big square holes are from the previous sink’s installation. The IKEA vanity is secured with metal clips (provided by IKEA) and toggle bolts (purchased by me).

Mounting the faucet on the sink

I installed the DALSKAR faucet on the ODENSVIK sink before placing it on the vanity – it was a lot easier to see and reach the underside this way.

IKEA ODENSVIK SinkJPG.JPG

The bottom of the metal faucet marked up the sink a bit as I was positioning it, which was disappointing. To avoid this, I’d recommend putting some painters tape around the hole and then removing it right before you tighten down the faucet. Otherwise, this step was straightforward and easy.

Figuring out the waste pipe connection

The waste pipe is the hole in the wall that the sink connects to, which I assume leads directly to the Chicago River. The IKEA p-trap drainpipe is 1-1/2 inches. Our waste pipe is smaller: 1-1/4 inches. So, I had to find a trap adapter/reducer. In retrospect, this wasn’t that big a deal: most of the battle was learning terminology and figuring out WTF I was even looking for.

Semi-Pro Tip #1: Don’t throw away anything you remove from your previous sink’s installation until you’ve successfully installed your new sink. Put it in a plastic bag and carry that grossness to every hardware store. If you’re a novice like I am, it’s extremely helpful to have with you to compare parts and to talk to store employees.

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Semi-Pro Tip #2: When you’re in the hardware store, BUY EVERYTHING. Seriously, if you find yourself looking at something and thinking “This might work” or “I think this would fit” — BUY IT. Keep the receipt and return what you don’t use.

In the interest of helping anyone in the same boat, here are all the options I gathered within 36 hours via Amazon, Clark & Barlow Hardware, Home Depot, and Ace:

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The Everbilt washer the Home Depot guy sent me home with was totally wrong for the job, so that one was immediately ruled out. Any of the other three probably would have worked if space were not a crucial issue for IKEA plumbing (more on that later).

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I experimented with both the galvanized reducer and the PVC trap adapter, ultimately choosing the PVC option because it was the most space-efficient.

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Good god, this post is boring. I’m sorry. Let’s trudge on.

Connecting the faucet

Our supply valves are 3/8 inch. The IKEA manual states that the faucet lines are 9/16 inch. As far as I learned, this is not a measurement used by US plumbing standards.

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So, I was worried about connecting my existing 3/8″ lines to the IKEA faucet lines, but did not encounter any problems at all. The ends connected perfectly, and they are watertight. Whew! I don’t know if the manual is simply incorrect, or if the difference is so slight that it’s negligible. Just another IKEA oddity.

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I wrapped the ends with Teflon tape to help ensure a tight seal.

Connecting the overflow drain and p-trap

This was the most frustrating part of the installation. Unlike the waste pipe, which was a challenge because of our house’s non-standard plumbing, this step was infuriating because it was caused by IKEA’s unforgiving design.ikea-drawer-fml.jpg

In order for the HEMNES drawers to slide in fully, the drain pipe and p-trap needs to be as close to the back wall as possible. The cabinet assembly does not allow a generous margin of error. Many people wind up having to shorten their drawers or hack notches into them. The drawers were the major appeal of this vanity in the first place, so I was hoping to avoid that.

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In the store display, IKEA shows the wall drain being off-center from the sink drain itself, so that the p-trap (the curved part at the bottom) is flush with the wall and the overflow tube (the black rubber piece) can be connected.

ikea-plumbing-display-2.JPG

In my experience, this a totally unrealistic and unholy arrangement. Our wall drain hole is centered with the sink’s drain, like God intended. I had no choice but to position the drain to run at an angle, in order to get the p-trap flush with the wall.

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The overflow tube IKEA provides is quite rigid and would simply not bend or stretch to work with that arrangement. I could force it into place with a terribly angled drain (as you see above), but it would slowly disconnect because of the strain. IKEA’s design doesn’t include anything to actually secure it to the drain. I tried cable ties and steel screw clamps, but the black rubber was simply too rigid. Incredibly frustrating!

I went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace in search of tubing that could work as a replacement. I bought a few different types of plastic tubing, but in the end, nothing worked as well as a $3 bike inner tube I stole from Jarrod. It was flexible enough for the tight space, and I was able to secure it in place with cable ties.

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I don’t claim that this solution is perfect: if the sink were stopped up and water reached the overflow hole, the bike tube doesn’t drain water as quickly as a rigid tube would. But it’s totally water-tight and, ultimately, it’s the solution that saved me from having to hack the drawers and/or burn down the house. For our purposes, the overflow drain only gets used when water splashes back there. So, it’ll do.

Moving along! You have to punch out a hole on whichever side you install the overflow drain.

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I waited to do the punch out step until the very end, when I was 100% certain what my final arrangement would be.

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Good enough!

Checking your work and sealing it up

I waited a few days before installing the drawers so that I could keep an eye on the drain and supply lines, to make sure nothing was leaking. I also wiped a Kleenex over all of the components a couple times each day to make sure everything was staying completely dry.

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Once I was certain the drain and faucet lines were watertight, it was time for silicon. I lifted the sink to put a line of silicon on top of the vanity and then carefully set it back in place. I also used silicon on the rubber seal that sits between the sink and the drain. I figured this might help make it extra-watertight; couldn’t hurt, anyway.

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And, finally, I ran a line of silicon at the back of the sink, where it meets the wall.

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This line of silicon was the most beautiful and satisfying thing I’ve ever done, because it meant this project was FINISHED.

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The cat inspector gave me some shit about the bike tube plumbing but signed off on the job nevertheless.

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Second-guessing your decision to buy an IKEA vanity

At a couple of points during this multi-day project, I’ll admit that I regretted buying an IKEA vanity. But, in the end, I think I made the right choice. The vanity offers more storage in a smaller footprint than the terrible saucer sink. The new sink has a smaller surrounding edge, but it’s actually functional because it’s level — the previous sink ledge sloped inward.

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After:ikea-vanity.JPG

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The vanity looks nice and feels very sturdy. I love the drawers: they slide smoothly and shut softly. I also love the faucet: the one-handle design is great, and the water turns on and off very cleanly. Most importantly, the vanity fit our tight space requirements and our budget.

You can see additional photos of the space in my Bathroom Makeover post.

Sources:

Bathroom Makeover: Finished!

Hey, our bathroom is finished! As I mentioned when I first shared my bathroom makeover plans, my goal was to replace the glaring features that made the bathroom look really dated/cheap: most notably, the paint, mirror, and sink. Eventually we’ll do a full bathroom renovation (that granite tile is not part of my forever plan), but making some changes now will keep me happy with this space for several years to come.

The upstairs landing is looking much better since you last saw it, with a rug, snake plant, and framed photo. I’ve had the IKEA VITTEN shag rug for a long time now, and it’s held up surprisingly well. Snake plants are unkillable – this one gets indirect light from the stairwell window, and that’s keeping it alive just fine.

Before:
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After:
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And here’s what the bathroom looks like now:

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Before:
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After:
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Before:
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After:
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Obviously, erasing that red was an easy win! (The walls are now Behr’s Irish Mist.) Less easy: replacing the sink. Installing the IKEA HEMNES vanity was difficult for a variety of reasons, which I’ll detail in another post. But it was ultimately worth it: it’s the perfect size, I love the storage drawers, and good riddance to that terrible pedestal sink. [Update: see How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity]

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To be honest, I’m not totally in love with the eucalyptus wall hanging I made. I preserved the eucalyptus with vegetable glycerine (following this blog post’s helpful instruction), which has kept it flexible and intact, but it’s become less green and more reddish brown over the past couple of months. I do like it for bringing some different texture and shape into the bathroom, though. And, if nothing else, it was fun to braid string and embroidery floss.

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Preserved plants are no match for live, verdant ones. The window ledge is a great spot for plants that I’m starting from clippings.

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I swapped the existing light fixture for a mini-sputnik style chandelier from West Elm.

Before:
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After:
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Aside from the vanity, my favorite change is the mirror. The Linfield pivoting mirror from Rejuvenation is perfect: beveled edge, rounded corners, and remarkably well-made. I hope to use it for decades.

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The abutting doors were a hassle, so I replaced the closet door with a curtain. And, I swapped the door’s hinges and knob for black metal ones: small changes that made a big difference.

Before:
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After:
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More details about the bathroom closet changes can be found in my previous post.

Before:
Bathroom Closet Before

After:
Bathroom Closet After 2

 

The Relax sign was replaced by a photo my brother took of my aunt and uncle’s pecan grove in southwest Missouri.

Before: 
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After:
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That’s all I got for now! I’ll close with the product sources; you can also see them gathered together in my previous post.

Bathroom and Stairs: Progress and Plans

In my last post, I shared then-and-now photos of our kitchen and dining room. I’m continuing my six-months-later series with our stairs and half bathroom. These obviously aren’t After (TM) photos, just progress shots. Let’s dive in!

Before:downstairs14

Now:Stairs

What’s been done:

  • Not much!
  • Painted the bathroom walls and trim.
  • Took down the hardware.
  • Hung a new mirror.
  • Installed new black hinges and doorknob.
  • That’s it.

Before:downstairs9

Now:Stairs Bathroom

I told the painter he didn’t have to do anything with this staircase. I look forward to tackling it at some point, but it’s not pressing. I need to test it for lead and research the safest and most effective way to remove paint from spindles (e.g. chemical strippers, heat gun, raging fire…).

Before:downstairs10

Now:Bathroom.JPG

Because there are so many weird angles in the bathroom, I chose to use the same color of paint (Irish Mist) on the walls and the ceiling. It helps make it look a little less choppy.

Before:downstairs11

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Not too huge a change, really! But it feels so much better, and “just paint” belies the amount of work a professional paint job entailed. Everything was filthy and uneven, and our painter scrubbed, sanded, patched, primed, and painted the trim, walls, and ceiling. And, new hinges have a surprisingly big impact!

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Before:Bathroom Door Before.JPG

During:Bathroom Door During.JPG

Now:Bathroom Door.JPG

That dumb, crowded rosette on the top left kills me. I can’t wait to replace all of the trim in this house!

Jarrod declared that the half-bath would be my “stunt room” and I’m excited to make that happen. It’s actually something my mom would do, too, in the houses we worked on: be more daring in powder rooms because you can be. I think I’ll steal heavily from this inspiration:

BAMeganBrakefield.jpgPhoto from Design*Sponge

What I plan to do, short term (within a year or so):

  • Nothing. I don’t want to waste time or money on lipstick for a pig.
  • Well, okay, maybe some art and some plants.
  • Well, okay, maybe a new light fixture if I know that it will work with my future bathroom plans.

What I plan to do, longer term (within two to three years, maybe):

  • Full bathroom remodel: I hope this shouldn’t be overly expensive, because the room is so small (reducing the amount of materials and labor needed).
  • Remove the wall and floor tile.
  • New tile floor.
  • Install wainscoting.
  • Wallpaper!
  • New sink, toilet, light fixtures, door, and trim.
  • For the stairs: refinish the landing, treads, risers, stringers, balusters, newels, and handrail. I would have only known half those terms without the aid of Google.