A (long overdue) Bathroom Update

Friends, family, random people who stumbled upon this blog by searching “bathroom renovation that took for-ev-er”, I  have an announcement to make.

We are on the home stretch. The end is in sight.

There is a very good chance I will have a fully completed bathroom by the end of the week. (Insert a dramatic pause here to let this wonderful news soak in.)

The painters are coming for touch-ups today, the plumbers are going to install the sink and toilet tomorrow, and the electrician is finishing the wiring on Friday. I am so happy I can’t stand it. I would add an entire row of emojis giving thumbs up and awkwardly huge smiles if I knew how to do that on wordpress. Alas, I cannot, so you will have to settle for this awkward smiley face that doesn’t even capture half of the excitement that I feel. :) There you go.

Anyway, you are probably a little confused as to how we got so far in the progress of the bathroom when the last time we talked the bathroom looked like this: DSC_0248 Sure, that’s not a terrible-looking bathroom, but there was still a lot to be done. So let me bring you up to speed. While I was in Portland, I received daily updates from Husband on the shower tile installation.

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I just love, love, love some white subway tile!

And here she is all pretty and sleek, with just one row of  top tile to go, and pre-grout.

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When I got home from my trip, I discovered that the subway tile was completely finished and the floor tile was polished off with some snazzy charcoal grout:

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We opted for a darker grout to help make the white tiles POP! and also to help hide stains (dirt, dust, mildew, etc). We carried that same concept (and grout color) over to the subway tile on the walls:

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EEK! Grout “in progress” shots are scary. Good thing that stuff cleans up easily!

The most gratifying step in the whole process has been re-glazing the tub. Pre-reno our original cast iron tub had started to chip and rust. No matter how often or hard I scrubbed and cleaned the tub, it never looked clean. Which means I haven’t taken a bath (or as my family calls them “tub-baths”)  in over two years. Actually, it’s probably been closer to 3 years. Now I could go into a long-winded rant on the difference between a shower/rinse-off/tub-bath/etc but I don’t feel this is the time or the place for all that nonsense. Just know I have showered in the past three years, just haven’t taken a true bath. Anyway, for some crazy reason I cannot find a single picture of the tub “before” but just believe me when I saw it was rusted and gross, but we wanted to keep it anway. :)

So after it was sanded, re-glazed, and re-finished, boom!

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Oh she is so so pretty. And I love her so so much.

Also on the completed list, is the trim work and custom built-in:

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Ooo pretty!

Look at all that storage space!

photo 2 (2)The glass panels go in the mirrored medicine cabinet, which has also been installed, over here:

photo 1Whoa whoa whoa… is that flower trim I spy? Were we really so enamored with the original design of the bathroom that we brought back a little bit of that flower power goodness?!

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NO! Heck no! Definitely no!

We decided to reuse the original trim (including the window trim with flowers) to keep the historic integrity of the renovation, and of course to reduce, reuse, and recycle! You may notice they replaced the sashes in the window (yay new panels, yay bright natural light), and then they just popped the original trim back over the casing.

photo 4But don’t worry, the flowers still gotta go.

So that’s where we are now… so much done and the finish line in sight. Who wants to come over for a bathroom party when its done?!

photo 1P.S. Sorry for the terrible photo quality of these images… I took them all on my iPhone  in a scramble right before the contractors came over this morning. I promise semi-professional quality photos next time (which means I will have Ross take them.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week in Portland’s Summer

Portland in the summer. The weather is perfect: hot but not humid. The sun is shining. The beer is cold and plentiful. Food is delicious and served outside. EVERYTHING is green and blooming (thanks to the 9 months of rain a year). It’s the stuff dreams are made of folks. At least my best dreams have beer and sunshine. :)

I was given the opportunity to head (north)west for a week to help run the Canary office in Portland while two gals were on maternity leave and another coworker was on vacation. Work was BUSY that week, but it was great to be in a true office environment during the insanity. I forgot how fun it can be to get dressed every day!

The Pearl District

The Pearl District

The Gadsby Building: Home to Canary NW

The Gadsby Building: Home to Canary NW

While I was there I also had the opportunity to meet up with a few of my favorite Portlanders. Janie (one of my very first friends in Portland) and I had a delicious breakfast before work one morning. Smoked salmon on a pretzel bread bagel and locally roasted coffee was on the menu, and great conversation was lined up for the entertainment. She has two (quickly growing!) little ones and a great new job in the Pearl, so we had a lot to catch up on! We didn’t manage to snag a picture of our get together (dang it!) but there is always next time!

Another Portland-must see are friends Vivian and Andy. Both bike racers who truly embody all that is great in the great NW, we caught up with a picnic in the park with a bike race view, Friday night cocktails (and beers!), and a sunset stroll on the waterfront. Seriously, spectacular.

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A sunset picnic in the park… which just so happens to be on top of a volcano.

  

 

Cold wine, yummy snacks, dear friends

Cold wine, yummy snacks, dear friends

 

Portland waterfront from the East Side.

Portland waterfront from the east side, looking downtown.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Portland trip without a little Southern twist! :) Amelia and I have been friends since we both first moved to Portland… we both came from NC and ended up in apartment complexes within a mile of each other when we first arrived. We became fast friends, and she was even in our NC wedding. Now our visits involve vegetarian food, secrets bars, and Forest Park runs.

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Cheers! #kidsinoveralls

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So there you have it. A quick recap of my fabulous week and a glimpse of the beauty that is Portland in the summer. When can I go back?!

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Panoramic Portland

Our Fabulous Fourth: Hiking the A.T. from Carver’s Gap to 19E

Eisley is terrified of fireworks. Well, really anything that goes “boom.” Fireworks, guns, thunder, cars back-firing, you get the idea.  So we have really made an effort to spend every 4th of July as a family, our happy little family of 5 where furry creatures outnumber humans, so that  we can make sure our little girl can be comfortable and hopefully a little less scared.

This year Ross and I both had Thursday – Sunday off of work for the holiday, so we decided to make the most of the long weekend by escaping to the mountains for a couple of nights. Henry (the cat) held down the fort at home, and we set out with the dogs.

We spent Thursday night at our friend Jeremy’s family cabin, nestled in the woods outside Banner Elk. The cabin was comfortable and quiet, with just the right amount of rustic charm: exactly like a mountain retreat should be. Jeremy had his dog Bailey and his parent’s dog Dakota there for the night, so when we added our two pups it was a bit of a zoo, but everyone got along fabulously.

And speaking of animals, this little guy also joined the party:DSC_0250

Now while I personally am not one to decorate my walls with dead forest friends, something about this dude made me smile. I think it was the silly smirk on his face and the position of his hoofs. I imagine he is saying “Here, hold my beer while I do this.” Ha!

Friday morning we hit the road for the more adventurous portion of the trip. Our plan was to hike the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap to Highway 19E, camping out one night along the way.

We parked our car at the Mountain Harbour B&B, a mountain hostel that serves as a perfect retreat for weary through-hikers and high country visitors. We paid $5 to leave our car in the field in front of the hostel, with the peace of mind that it would be watched over by staff and guests to prevent vandalism. Jeremy kindly drove us up to Carver’s Gap, and all we had to do was march the the 14 mountain miles back to our car.

This 14 mile portion of the Appalchian Trail travels along a ridge, providing absolutely fantastic views. You are out on an open ridge line for a while, then down into the trees, and then back up to the open ridge. It repeats this a few times, giving you alternating 360 views of the high country and generous breaks in the shade.

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A little over three miles in we stopped at the Stan Murray Shelter for a break and quick lunch of cheese, crackers, packaged tuna, and a chocolate chip cookie. I don’t know if it was the hike or the high-calorie content of the meal, but it was amazing.

This shelter is a popular turning point for day hikers, so from here on out we expected a significant decrease in foot traffic on the trail.

The next couple of miles were easy and shaded, providing us plenty of time to digest and get ready for the next big challenge on the trail. After passing the Overmoutain Shelter, (at a little under 5.5 miles from the start) we started the initial climb up. Although we were hiking “down” to our car, the majority of the trail was rolling, with a couple of very significant climbs. The initial climb to the first “bald” was pretty steep, but definitely manageable, and the views were totally worth it.

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We had a short little downhill, before the biggest challenge of the trip. The second hump was incredibly steep, and incredibly exhausting. It felt like we were climbing a ladder, but without a handrail. I knew it was pretty tough when even my super-athlete husband was moving slow! :)

Here is a view of the second hump from the top of the first:

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And this is where we started the long climb up:

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No matter how steep, the doggies thought it was the best day ever.

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We were told that the top of the second bald was an excellent place to camp, because you can see 4th of July firework shows down in the towns below. We had our minds set on reaching the top, and slowly drudged on.

When we reached the top we were met with a spectacular view and the unfortunate realization that there wasn’t anywhere for us to camp. There was only one spot at the top that looked like a good place to pitch a tent (the grass was much shorter from heavy use), but it was occupied by another camper. There was probably enough room for us to join, but we really like the idea of camping out in the wild alone unless we intentionally go with a group (which is a lot of fun too).

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So we trekked on… leaving behind the idea of a firework show at the top. We intended to camp at the next site we saw, but we just kept going and going without any sign of a resting spot. Yes, we could have “made” a camping spot anywhere, and just tossed down our backpacks and called it a night, but we wanted to preserve the fragile landscaping and rare plant-life as much as possible.

On and on we trekked. And on and on. This part of the trail was heavily wooded, and there really wasn’t an opportunity to put a tent anywhere. Unless we wanted to sleep in a tree. :)

At long last, when my legs were dead and I was feeling very hangry (hungry/angry), the trees parted and we found ourselves in a wide open field. Ross joked that he had never been so happy to see grass in his life.

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Just across the field we found an incredible site, stocked with boulder “tables” and a fire ring where some kind soul had left a pile of dry limbs for fire wood. We set up camp just as the sun was setting over the ridge (which of course provided fantastic lighting for a little photo shoot with the pups).

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We ate a nice dinner of dehydrated rice and beans, noodles, juice box wine, and s’mores before turning in early, all four of us huddled into the tent together. We could hear firework shows in the distance, but after 7 hours of strenuous hiking, covering about 12 miles, we didn’t even bother looking for a place to watch the show.

The next morning we woke up incredibly sore but refreshed to be out in the wild. We packed up our backpacks, and started the final hike back to our car. It took us less than two hours two hobble our sore legs back to the car, which we are guessing was the final 1 – 2 miles.

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Overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I highly recommend this portion of the AT for avid hikers. The views were incredible and there was a wide variety of rare plants to brighten our walk.

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What did you do for the 4th? Do you have any favorite hikes in the high country? Would you backpack 14 miles into the wilderness just to get your dog away from fireworks?

Riding the Wind

Friday brought some really significant progress in our little bathroom project. The painters showed up first thing in the morning and got right to work sanding the dry wall putty down to a nice smooth surface. You may remember from previous posts (here) that I HATE sanding. HATE. HATE. HATE it. So I was super thankful to have someone else doing the dirty work (literally, there was dust every where) this time.

Once the sanding was done, they got right to work priming the walls and ceiling. I was super excited to see the bright white walls, even if it was just primer. Then they threw me for a big loop: they could get ALL of the painting done in the next few hours, if I just told them what color I wanted to paint the upper part of the walls (we already knew we wanted the beadboard painted white). Now this might not seem like such a big deal, but all of a sudden I had to make a split second decision on the exact paint color I wanted, without Ross’s help, or else I had to wait until another day for the paint. I definitely was not prepared for this decision, but who am I to turn down progress?

So knowing we wanted a lighter shade of blue, I quickly flipped through the hundreds of colors in the Sherwin-Williams swatch book the painters had and pulled about 20 colors that immediately stood out to me. I sent Ross links to each color online, and he narrowed it down to 4 colors. From there I did a quick google search of each color, looking to see how other people used their colors. (Basically I searched Sherwin-Williams “color name” bathroom and then looked through the google images.) Of the four finalists, one shade consistently popped up on DIY and home blogs: “Tradewind.”

Product link here

Manufacturer link here

We thought it looked bright, relaxing, and clean, so we decided to give it a go.

Impulse decision made, I waited patiently for them to get the first coat on the walls. Ok, really I was sitting in my office biting my nails (nasty habit I know) but I like to think I was calm and collected about the decision.

About an hour later: done.

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The nook behind the door is going to be a built-in cabinet. :)

I have to say, I am pretty darn happy with my 5-minute paint choice. I am also impressed that the crew was able to apply a coat of primer and two coats of paint to the entire ceiling and walls in such a short amount of time. And I didn’t have to clean up any paint brushes after!  (Score!)

 

It’s a BATHROOM!

I know, I know… that may sound like a pretty lame revelation, but after 5 weeks of a bare shell our little hall way nook finally looks like a real bathroom. What made the difference you may ask?

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Tile, baby. Tile!

Yesterday the tile was installed and man oh man do we love it! It is very period-specific and oh so fun. I love walking down the hall and getting a little glimpse of these bad boys underneath the door.

DSC_0249I apologize for the weird lighting. Apparently a solitary light bulb hanging out of the wall doesn’t supply very photo-friendly ambiance. It is also sounds like a horror movie. “The single light bulb dangled from the ceiling, flickering with the pains of lost souls.” I dunno… I am definitely not a horror novel writer. In fact I was forbidden to watch scary movies as a kid because I had trouble sleeping for weeks. I still refuse to watch them. :)

I digress…

I am also aware that the tile looks dirty… mostly because… well it is dirty. The contractor used a dark grey quick set underneath the tiles so there is some residue floating around from that. You can rest assured that they will clean the tile well before filling in with grout (which is scheduled to happen on Monday).

Tomorrow the plan is for them to finish up sanding the dry wall, followed by priming and painting the ceiling, and priming the walls. Can’t wait! :)

 

Full Steam Ahead

After a few rather torturous delays we are finally making some headway on the bathroom renovation. Anytime there is a full room reno, contractors are obligated to get city inspections on every little detail. While I definitely understand the value of a carefully checked over room, there were times I was cursing the city regulations and begging for progress. A couple of scheduling delays thrown into the mix made for a slow two weeks of work, but finally (FINALLY!!!) we are seeing daily improvements in our little space.

Last time we talked, our bathroom was still a hollow shell, waiting for love:

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Since then we have had plumbing remounted, electrical re-wired (including installation of a new roof vent for our exhaust fan), inspections on said plumbing and electrical (plus additional inspections for framing and installation), new insulation packed in, dry wall installed on the ceiling and upper section of the walls, and bead board on the lower half.

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Yesterday the floor board was installed,

DSC_0250_2which means next stop… TILE!!!

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Full steam ahead!!!!!!!!

A Vision for the Bathroom

When it came time to hash out of vision for the bathroom, we knew we wanted to follow a very period-specific theme. Our house was built in the early 1930s, so we wanted to stay as true as possible to the art deco styling, with a slight modern edge for mass appeal. (Fun fact – the engagement ring Ross chose for me is also from this same period, so you can tell we tend to gravitate towards that time frame.)

After doing some research we found that all of our favorite classic bathroom trends are very appropriate for that period. Here are a couple of images we loved from the beginning:

From this image we loved the classic white subway tile, traditional black and white hexagon tile floor, crisp light blue walls, and white beadboard wainscoting.

This bathroom has a lot of the same classic elements, but added polished chrome fixtures and large pedestal sink.

So here is our vision:

 

Bathroom mood board

 

The tile was an easy choice – we went with a traditional black and white hexagon for the floors. This is a pretty standard design for a couple of different manufactuers, so we went with what was the most readily available in our area (turned out to be U.S. Ceramics). Inside the shower we are planning to use a basic white subway tile.

Once we have drywall back up, we will add beadboard wainscoting in a nice bright white. We are hoping to be able to reuse some of the original trim that was saved during the demo phase, but if it is beyond repair, we will pick out a nice thick molding that matches the crown molding and baseboards in the rest of the house.

For fixtures, we knew we wanted an oversized-rectangle pedestal sink, and the same one kept popping up as our favorite (Kohler Memoirs).  We based the majority of the rest of our decisions around that choice.

http://www.build.com/kohler-k-2268-8-0-white-memoirs-pedestal-lavatory-with-8-centers/p221273

Product detail here

For example, the sink has a large, rectangle top with great angle detailing. We mirrored that theme in our light choice.

Product detail here

Product detail here

Because the light and sink would be the main focal points of the room, we wanted to prioritize our budget there, and we decided to go with more basic options for the faucets (both on the sink and inside the shower). Following the polished chrome theme, we chose a couple of basic, traditional faucets.

We still have a couple of small items to pick out like the medicine cabinet, towel bars, etc. but those are all finishing details we can decide once the rest of the bathroom starts to come together.

For now, we are still looking at studs and a sub-floor. Since this is a total gut job, there are several steps with electricians, plumbers, and inspectors, and we are at the mercy of all of their schedules. Our contractor told us that “inspected jobs” usually take twice as long as those that do not require inspections. Sigh. One day we will have walls again.

Long Weekends are Productive Weekends

This weekend we:

Updated the rock bed on the inside of the entry to our fence:

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And added a happy (little!) mulch bed to the outside:

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Got a couple of shade-loving plants for the side of the house (we plan to add more over time):

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(The green one’s name is Cletus.)

We got new bamboo blinds for the front porch to keep the baking sun off of the front of the house, give us privacy for evening porch-sittin’, and make the space feel more like a completed room:

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We re-caulked the upstairs shower, to get it ready for consistent use while our downstairs bathroom is in demo mode (no pictures, because there wasn’t much to see)…

And we started a secret project (no pictures, because it gets its own post!).

I went for a long run:

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Ross logged a ton of miles on the bike (including some time on the trail with his favorite riding companion):

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And we celebrated our oldest child’s birthday:

Happy 5th birthday Eisley Boone!

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You could say we were pretty productive this weekend! :)

Bathroom progress update: The electricians finished the initial wiring and the plumbers are done with the “roughed in” piping and fixtures. Now we wait for inspections and the vent fan installation. I promised I will post pictures, as soon as there is something to see!

Fenced In – There’s No Escaping Now!

With all the back and forth between the bathroom demolition posts and updates on the fence progress it probably appears that the two projects overlapped for a week. Thankfully, that is not the case (because that would be more than I could handle and would push me right over into koo-koo land). In fact the timing worked out absolutely perfectly. The fence was finished up Monday evening, and the bathroom crew came in bright and early on Tuesday morning. I really could not have planned it better if I was in charge! (This time, I was just at the mercy of the contractors.)

So, how about some nice finished shots of the fence?! Take a tour around the yard with me, won’t you?!

By our back, enclosed porch. We want to add some mulch and small plants in that bare area next to the driveway:

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And a shot from the inside:

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We also need to revamp our little rock entry way. It got a little disheveled during the construction of the fence.

Behind the garage:

DSC_0260Which reminds me: we still need to clear out that piled up bamboo…. add it to the list!

And on the right side of the house: DSC_0257

DSC_0258_2I am very happy with the finished fence and the great contractors that we used for the job. For the project we were very happy to hire Bull City Fencing – a family owned and operated business that has served the Triangle for over 20 years. Ben Baker, and his son and nephew, were a great team for our fencing project, and it was completed in a very courteous and thorough manner. Ben gave us his professional opinions and suggestions and we are very happy with the outcome. Definitely reach out to them if you are in the Triangle and need a new fence! 

DSC_0250The most exciting part of the project (besides it looking awesome of course), is that I can now put the dogs outside for a couple of hours, and don’t feel the need to check on them every couple of minutes. The fence is secure, and the fur kids aren’t going anywhere! Unless Ridley decides to start digging holes under the fence rather than randomly in the center of the yard!

Another fun update I forgot to share with you is our extended Peanut Island! Remember this guy?


Peanut Island is the name we gave to our little flower bed around the light post. About a month ago we decided to expand the size of our little island, practically doubling it.  Since the shape has changed from a classic peanut shape to more of a elongated pod shape, I am now calling it “Three Peas in a Pod.”:)DSC_0252

We added several different flowering bushes, including some Lantana (one of Ross’s favorites):

DSC_0255_2And we also tossed in some hearty hens and chicks in little rock beds for a nod to my succulent/cactus obsession:

DSC_0249Our goal is to keep adding to our mulch beds until eventually there is zero grass in our front yard. It is a work in progress, because plants take a lot of time, energy, and cash, but our curb appeal is definitely looking up!

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Quick bathroom update: Yesterday the electrician came and wired the area for our new overhead exhaust fan and a couple of other minor updates. We hope to finalize our fixture choices this weekend and I will plan to share those with you next week.

We have quite a to-do list building up, so here’s hoping the weather cooperates and we can have a productive long weekend. Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Bathroom Renovation Day 1 and 2 – From Flowers to Studs

The past two days were all about demo, demo, demo! As you can probably guess, there wasn’t a whole lot about this bathroom that we were attached to, so we went for a complete gut job.

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Goodbye flowers, hello studs! (No I don’t mean a pack of good-lookin’ men…. I am talking what’s going on behind our walls!)

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After the dust settled at the end of Day 1 we were left with bare walls, an empty ceiling, and a thick sheet of linoleum underneath the former tile. It’s always interesting to see what is underneath all the different layers in an old, old house. For instance, check out this little discovery that was hiding between the layers of wall board in the shower.

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Why anyone would want to cover that up is beyond me. ;) The funny part of it is we were expecting this to be a repeated pattern throughout the entire shower area. Nope… just one small pair of swans, slightly off center, enjoying a bath. Weird.

For day 2 our team ripped up the remaining layers of floor to reveal the sub floor. Leave it to me to actually be enamored with the way the subfloor looks.

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Maybe its the diagonal orientation or the reminiscent of barn wood feel, but I think it’s kinda nice.

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Or maybe I have inhaled too much construction dust.

The only “fixture” in the entire bathroom that we decided to keep was the tub. To the best of our knowledge, we believe it is a cast iron tub, original to the house. It has seen better days, and is a bit rusty, but as my dad said “they just don’t make them like this anymore.” So she stays. But she will be getting a full re-glaze later in the process.

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Another fun demo for the day was the basement shelves. What do the basement shelves have to do with the bathroom? Well, let me show you!

DSC_0254_2This area of the basement is directly below our little bathroom. You can see all the wires and plumbing entangled in the shelves (along with some sketchy stains and holes… gross). Since the shelves were disgusting not so cosmetically appealing, we had no qualms about them being ripped out. Ross has promised to build new ones… isn’t it funny how one big project has a domino effect on a ton of smaller projects around the house?!

Here is the space sans-shelves. It is much more open and clean, and I love the exposed brick columns. Maybe I would swap new built-ins for a new wall and a fresh coat of paint and call it done. :)

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The demo phase is definitely the loudest part of the project and the dogs have been handling it like a champ. They spend most of the morning outside, then I lock them in my office with me in the hot part of the afternoon. Extra exercise, plus scary noises make for needy and sweet fur babies. Eisley tends to take refuge under small objects, like my desk chair:

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But this guy could sleep through anything… maybe it’s because he is my simple dog. :)

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So there you have it… from flowers to studs in 2 days!

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It may only take 2 days for a full demo, but it’s going to take a lot longer than that to rebuild!