Today the work on the bathroom finished up. All that’s left is some minor cleanup stuff, and a few things I need to do (like installing the towel bar and hanging more of my art back up).
It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough for now, and the stuff that needs fixing can wait, I think.
For comparison, here’s what my bathroom looked like before:
Grungy old dated fixtures which looked like stuff out of a cheap midrange hotel built in the 70s, in massive need of an update. The plumbing was all leaky and ready to fail, the shower valve was cantankerous and required way too much force to operate (I’m amazed that didn’t lead to a pipe bursting earlier, even), and of course the leaky bathtub and shower surround were contributing to the damage to the rest of the house as well.
The cabinet in the corner was also pretty much useless; the shelves weren’t deep enough to hold anything except my hand towels (I kept my bath towels in my bedroom closet), and the lower cabinet was a pain to put anything in.
I won’t re-litigate the big disaster or the little setbacks which took place during the process, I’ll just share some photos.
Well, okay, here’s some stuff which I didn’t talk about on the blog but which ended up being points of… concern? Frustration? Not sure.
The backsplash outlet was already pretty close to the sink and probably not up to code. The new sink cabinet is somewhat taller, bringing it even closer and definitely not up to code. My request to the contractor was that the backsplash not be installed so that I could relocate the outlet later, and the contractor also didn’t want the backsplash installed because cutting the quartz around the outlet would be ugly (and would probably end up breaking the quartz).
Unfortunately, the actual builder didn’t get the memo, and ended up doing a beautiful job of a terrible thing, namely cutting the notch out and keeping the outlet permanently 9" away from the sink. Electrical code calls for at least 12".
The other big thing I want to call out is the replacement corner shelves:
I supplied some rather nice cabinet plywood and a vague idea of how to install them, and the builder didn’t measure it beforehand to find out that the boards wouldn’t be long enough. So he made an… effort to install them anyway. He also used way too much wood on constructing the support railings (I wanted them to only be maybe 2" tall, and ideally chamfered/mitred at the bottom although I don’t think he had the right tools for doing that — but I did!) and that probably didn’t help matters either. He also didn’t sand or paint them up front and the results were, you know, not good.
Finally, the shower surround tile should have been installed such that the pattern was continuous, but for some reason the builder swapped things around horizontally which gives it a staggered look. Honestly I think it looks fine, although I’m getting a lot of grief from a couple of folks who insist that nobody would ever want it to look like that. That said, I have actual complaints about the tile installation, in that many of the tiles aren’t quite flush with their neighbors and many of them are off-center. It isn’t really noticeable from a distance, but it stands out to me while I’m actually in the shower. I’ll get used to it though, and the contractor offered me a discount on the tile work to sort of make up for it, at least.
So here’s how it looks now. It isn’t quite perfect but it’s certainly livable:
The medicine cabinet is a lot bigger than I was expecting it to be, which is 100% my fault, but all of the medicine cabinets I found were either ridiculously tiny or even bigger than this one. Also way more expensive. I’m fine with what I ended up with.
The final shelves still aren’t great. When discussing what to do with the contractor I suggested buying some white melamine shelves and some white corner brackets to install them, and the contractor insisted that plywood would look fine and be a lot less expensive. It doesn’t and it wasn’t. Also instead of using white brackets he bought black ones, which I asked to at least be painted to match their surroundings, and the coverage isn’t great. The brackets also aren’t square to the shelves.
On the plus side, this wouldn’t be too difficult to redo later with a better selection of materials and brackets. It’s annoying that it’d have to be, but at least it’s something I can do myself. In the meantime I think I can unscrew the shelves, bend the brackets to be a bit more square, and sand/repaint the shelves and brackets until they look good, maybe adding some white edge banding to them. A bead of caulk around the edges would also help to tidy things up a little, although I don’t want to do that until the shelves themselves look worth caulking that way.
There’s also a slight problem with the drawer unit below them, in that the door trim prevents the drawers from opening all the way, and removing the drawers requires removing the trim piece. This isn’t a huge deal to me, as the drawers are only for storing stuff I rarely use.
On that note, the sink cabinet I bought wasn’t my first choice by far, but I was constrained by supply chain issues. It’s okay but it’s a little shoddily-made, and opening the “barn door” takes some fiddling as it gets caught on something. Fortunately, the barn door seldom needs to open either, and I have plenty of storage in the drawers on the right.
The backsplash outlet issue is probably the biggest annoyance (and future expense) to deal with. My current plan is to eventually remove the quartz backsplash, hire an electrician to relocate the outlet (up and to the right, although there’s not much “up” anymore either), and then install a tile backsplash instead. But in the meantime it isn’t that big a deal to me. While it feels concerning to have the outlet and light switch that close to the sink, in reality it seems very unlikely that it’ll cause any problems, and one of my shorter-term intentions is to replace all three switches in the bathroom with smart switches, which are already somewhat more water-resistant due to their design and also gives me an opportunity to put a better water seal on the faceplate. The current faceplates are janky (in both design and installation), incidentally, which is another good reason to do that.
There’s also a bunch of changes which had to happen which weren’t the contractor’s fault; the original plan was to stick with the original bathtub, but it didn’t have the appropriate flange (which is a big part of why it got so leaky!) and when the contractor removed it to check the floor underneath it, the bottom shattered anyway. Sometimes it’s a good thing they don’t make ‘em like they used to. So, that led to a scramble to find a replacement bathtub, which in turn led me to having a curved tub, which would have been incompatible with the (flat) sliding glass door I’d ordered (and which was ridiculously delayed in shipping anyway), so I ended up switching to a shower curtain… which means no longer having anywhere to hang my towel within reach of the shower.
So that’s why there’s a towel hook under the terrarrium now. It’s not an ideal solution but it works well enough (and it’s the only towel hook I found which would actually hold a full-sized towel). I bought two of them and I’ll probably put the other one on the little bit between the tub and the shelves. Not sure just yet.
I also have a matching regular towel bar which will go on the wall by the medicine cabinet (where the old one was). That can come later, though.
This is actually the second shower curtain rod I bought; I accidentally janked the first one when I had it installed temporarily as a tension rod, but it also had that ugly brushed-nickel finish that matched the fixtures within the shower, and I decided it’d look better to have a rubbed-bronze one that matched the towel hook instead.
The overall décor feels like a slight hodgepodge to me, but it isn’t awful, and it’s a huge improvement over what was there before. It doesn’t look bad to me, at least, especially considering how many of these decisions had to be made in a hurry.
The contractor originally thought this would be a week-long project, and it ended up taking just over a month. But I’m happy to finally have a functional, pretty-decent-looking bathroom. It’s far from perfect, but it’s definitely something I can live with.
Also, in looking at the photos, I just realized that all this time I had the photo of the Santa Cruz beach hung up sideways. Oops. Well, it’s correct now!
Here’s some more pictures from after I tidied up and also got the towel bar and a bunch of art hung up.
A thing I forgot to mention is that now that the corner cabinet has been replaced with the floating drawers, there’s room for a litter box underneath. My hope was that it’d be large enough for Fiona but too small for Tyler, giving Fiona a place to poop in peace, but Tyler’s decided he likes cramming himself in there to poop anyway. What a weirdo.