With the tub reglazed and moving into a house without a functioning kitchen or bathroom it was time to crack the whip on the 1st floor bath. I had to resume working on the tile around the tub so that I could at least take baths.
Since a few days had gone from when I started the walls, when I went to resume I quickly noticed that the tiles on the long wall were not lining up with the shower head wall. The bottom row is the only row I had to cut to size and at some point I did not pay close enough attention to keep them aligned. The American Olean 4×4 had built in spacers, loved that about them, but I knew if I didn’t correct alignment by the time I got to the top my chair rail tile wouldn’t line up. Thankfully I had bought 1/8″ spacers, so I used them to slightly widen the space until the corners lined up again; four rows with spacers meant I was 1/2″ off. So fortunate to catch that when I did.
The first real challenge I had was the soap niche. I had never done one, but YouTube and a few visits to look at tile shop displays was all I needed to feel comfortable with moving forward. Planning the location of a soap niche is very important. I purchased pre-fabricated soap boxes for both showers, which had to be screwed to the joist before the cement board. I measured up approx 22″ from the tub, which is where I thought five, whole pieces of the 4×4 plus the 2×6 bullnose border would fit. Missed it!
First, the tile actually measured 4 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ and I didn’t know before I started that the bottom row would not be a whole piece, so I actually needed a 3″ wide border. I was stymied for a couple of days until I had another one of my MacGyver visions. I had initially bought the wrong cove base, but hadn’t returned it yet. It was 4×6 with a bullnose, so I cut it down to the 3″ I needed. The mitered corners were easier to measure and cut than I thought they’d be. 10 days after moving in I took my first bath; no more inconveniencing friends and former neighbors.
Once I got passed the soap niche and tub area I turned my focus back to the floor. I had grouted the white area, but not the black as I wanted to do it with the soap niche. In hindsight I should have chosen a neutral grout color, like gray, and used it on the floors and walls, but noooooo my mind/vision was fixed on black on black, white on white. Before I could apply the black I had to use my Dremel tool to clean out the grooves where the white grout had gotten into the wrong areas. I was on my hands and knees for hours. After getting all the areas cleaned out I vacuumed and applied blue painters tape around the edges in hopes that would be enough to stop the black grout from bleeding into the white areas. Theory and reality did not match on this occasion. When I pulled off the tape the “rug affect” looked like a hot mess and I cursed myself for thinking I could pull that off. At least the soap niche turned out alright.
Fixing the bleed over was more hours on my hands and knees using my Dremel tool to clean out the black. In some areas I had to mix more white grout to touch up, but amazingly, given my amateur status, the “rug affect” was a success and I could turn my attention to finishing the rest of the walls. All tile work was completed on January 8, over three months from the day I started.
My birthday gift to myself was going to be the completion of the bathroom by installing the toilet and sink. Unfortunately my Signature Hardware hardware fixtures, purchased in Spring of 2018 did not allow that to happen.
I started with the sink. I had purchased their Carden Pedestal sink. I really wanted a console sink, but I decided to be prudent given the master bath extravagance and save the $400. I got the base in place and set the sink on top and placed it against the wall. It did not lay flush. I thought for sure it was my tile job, so I pulled out my leveler and it was not the wall. The sink was defective; there was a hump in the middle.
I turned my sites to the toilet only to find that one of the two tank bolts were missing. I was PO’d. So much for that birthday gift. I called Signature Hardware, had to send them the pictures and video above, but once received they agreed to replace the sink. Fortunately for me I live about 15 minutes from their warehouse, so I didn’t have to wait for delivery. I returned it myself and was told they had to open four boxes before they found one that was flat across the back. Apparently they had gotten a bad batch. I got a new pack of tank bolts too. This cost me another week. When I was able to work on the bath again I started with the toilet. Easy, peasy, I had it connected in about 30 minutes, flushed it once all was well. Back to the sink. I had to connect all the faucets parts first and as I was working on that, the toilet started to run. Long story shortened they sold me a toilet that had been returned/defective. That was why there was only one bolt originally.
I am now beyond PO’d. My track record with my Signature Hardware fixtures up to that point was not good. I had already dealt with two bad drains, two bad aerators, the sink, missing bolts, and now a defective toilet. There customer service with each call was stellar, they always replaced parts quickly and without question. For my inconvenience with the sink they refunded me 10% of the purchase price, a whopping $21.99. In a previous blog I had talked about ordering sink faucets with the wrong reach that they would not let me return, so needless to say I wanted a manager to explain how I got a returned toilet. I wasn’t overly irrate, but I listed all the issues I have been having with their products and shared I had never had problems like these when purchasing from Home Depot or Lowes and that they were supposed to have a high end product. I told him I regretted ever buying from them and that I feared connecting the fixtures in the master shower (the only items of theirs left to install).
He asked me what he could do to make me happy, as my experiences weren’t a true reflection of their workmanship and quality. He opened the door and I burst through it. I asked for the console sink I really wanted and he gave it too me with no hesitation. Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it shall be opened to you; can I get an Amen! Once again, good customer service can overcome negative situations. I’ve already purchased a rob hook and toilet paper dispenser of theirs for my master via Build.com (I had a credit to use othewise I would have gotten from them directly). The sink top was the same, so all I had to do was pick up the new toilet and console, which they had ready for me in less than two hours. It took another two weeks before I had everything in (fear of drilling holes into my tile was the biggest hold up), but on February 9th I had a fully functioning bath.
The sink, toilet (I went with a round toilet as they would not have had an elongated in 1924), tub overflow drain cover, and shower curtain rod came from Signature Hardware. The overflow drain looks like its smiling at you when you take a bath. The towel rod, and toilet paper dispenser are American Standard TR Collection and the sink and shower faucets are American Standard Hampton Collection all ordered from Build.com. The original tub filler that came with the shower set I had to swap out for a longer one, Delta 7″, as when I filled the tub about half of the stream went directly into the overflow due to its cup design. That also came from Build.com. Next to Amazon that is my favorite online store to shop for my house.
Trying to be a more positive person is something I’m seeking on this new journey, so that is the inspiration behind my decor. It is a tribute to all the positive people that have come into life keeping me sane and motivating throughout this restoration journey. The wall paper that line the shelves in the closet and the back of the medicine cabinet is called Dream Big from Wayfair.com. The shower curtain, filled with motivational quotes and hooks, double sided so curtain and liner don’t share a hook, were great finds from Amazon. My other accessories: soap dispenser and trash can came from Bed, Bath, while the paper hand towel dispenser and linen like paper towels came from Amazon. All complimenting my black and white color scheme. I may have mentioned this item in an earlier blog about the electric, but I absolutely love my exhaust fan/light. Purchased from Build.com the fan comes on automatically whenever it senses humidity in the room.
I still need to touch up some areas with paint, hang the doors and medicine cabinet, but the functionality is complete. Of all the things I’ve done in this house, I think I’m most proud of this bathroom. My goal was to restore it to its original look and I think I accomplished that. I see the flaws, but I also marvel every time I walk in it amazed by what I accomplished with no assistance. I actually tell myself I’ve done good. I’m giddy, excited, to get the medicine cabinet complete. It will be an inspired by DIY/HGTV project with salvage material. Check back often to see the COMPLETELY restored bathroom.