When we told friends and family that we were planning to gut the powder room a mere 10 days before Thanksgiving, most looked at us with utter skepticism. Others just flat out told us we were crazy. But, Mike and I tend to make decisions quickly and once we decided to renovate the powder room, we decided it was silly not to do it before the holidays since we would have family in and out of town visiting and a couple of holidays events that we were hosting on the calendar. Once we decided to take the plunge and gut the room, in order to finish it in 10 days, there was no time to look back.
Day 1 Progress: Vanity, Toilet and Existing Trim… gone
Of course, we went into the renovation with a vision (my job) and a plan (Mike’s job) in place. We knew that we were essentially gutting the powder room… removing the existing vanity and toilet, chair rail and baseboards. We knew that there would be significant patching with drywall compound because the new paneling would not be installed at the same height as the old chair rail. We knew that the hardwood floors ran under the old vanity, but would probably be unfinished, which led us to the decision to strip and refinish all of the hardwoods in the room. We knew that the hole for the air vent that used to run out from under the base of the vanity was off center… a critical piece that allowed us to install a pedestal sink without having to move the vent location. Those were the issues that we knew we would face during the renovation process.
There were also things that we felt would work in our favor during renovation… the biggest, by far, was the fact that although we were gutting the room, we were not relocating any plumbing or electrical fixtures. We planned to put each fixture back exactly where it was before… from the toilet to the sconces flanking the mirror and vanity. That fact was a huge time and money saver for us throughout the project and allowed us to rely on ourselves to complete all of the work until the very end.
… a Craigs List Pedestal, In Stock and On Sale Wallpaper and Painting the Existing Mirror
I am most proud of the fact that we set a budget for the project and we were able to complete our renovation without sacrificing the style and look I wanted for the room without going over budget. My goal for my house is to create traditional, classic spaces with a modern edge… and it’s important for me not to sacrifice the look and pieces I want in order to get there. In the powder room, I knew going in that I wanted to change the vanity out for a pedestal sink… I even knew that I wanted one particular pedestal sink… the Kohler Memoirs pedestal. The squared pedestal top, classic lines and size were perfect for the space and just the look I wanted. But with an average price of $350 for the sink alone, it would have been a budget buster. So, I did the same thing that I used to do when I first started my furniture business… I hit Craigs List. There, buried back about 3 weeks were 2 listings for Kohler pedestal sinks… the exact version that I wanted for our bath. I emailed and heard back from one seller and ended up purchasing the exact pedestal that I wanted for 1/3 of the retail price. An added Bonus? It came with a 3 piece faucet that I loved and would have chosen myself in the store. There were a few small things that we had to replace on the sink once it was installed – the plumber added a new drain and stopper and I had to purchase a new aerator for the faucet, but once it was all said and done, we got the exact sink and faucet I wanted for 20% of the retail price.
The in stock and on sale wallpaper… a bargain buy that I love!
Another place we saved money was on the wallcovering. The powder room was wallpapered when we bought our house 6 years ago and we had the wallpaper stripped and the walls painted before we moved in. I have always wanted to play with wallpaper and a small space like the powder room provided the perfect opportunity. Again, I didn’t want to sacrifice style but knew that in order to meet our 10 day deadline, I would need to choose a wall paper that was in stock and available immediately. Fortunately, I found several I liked and one I loved and found that ordering in stock wallpaper often means big reductions in price… the store was having an in stock sale and the paper I chose was 25-30% of the cost of ones that I would have to special order. That mean that my 4 rolls of wallpaper wasn’t much more than a couple of gallons of paint. I ended up hiring someone to do the wallpaper installation… having never worked with wallpaper before, I decided that this wasn’t the time or room to try my hand at it. My forte is paint and with our 10 day deadline, we didn’t have time for a learning curve.
Splurges: A matching toilet and wood paneling
So, that’s where we saved. But, where did we splurge? Since we found our sink at such a great price and since that made room in our budget, I felt comfortable splurging on the matching toilet. We bought that (new) from Home Depot… and once again, in stock. We splurged a bit on the wood for the paneling. The wainscoting was something that I really wanted in the room and Mike executed my vision perfectly. We splurged on the sconces (not unreasonable, though) and on new hardware. I will say this though… Mike got so frustrated with the hardware and sconces. All three items look pretty and fit the room and they’re fine… but the quality of materials, the quality of construction was a little disappointing. The hardware pieces felt flimsy and the sconces arrived with missing pieces and horrible installation directions.
A mid-renovation “surprise”…
What’s a renovation project without a few surprises? This project went surprisingly well and I’d gotten a little too comfortable with that fact… we were several days ahead of schedule and the plumber was booked to arrive to install the sink and toilet. He arrived, walked into the house and five minutes later, walked right back out. The hardwoods under the toilet had rotted over the years and he was unable to install the new toilet because he couldn’t get a good seal. I freaked. I panicked. I was convinced that we’d have to install an outhouse in the backyard for the holiday weekend. But I called my girl Brittany and she knew what to do. She came over, poked and prodded at the old floors, crawled under my house to check my subflooring and let me borrow one of her power tools to cut the rotted boards out once we knew that the rest of the flooring was in good shape. She was a true friend… and on that day, she was a lifesaver. Mike patched the spot with a few pieces of unfinished red oak, we finished the floors and by Monday morning, we were back on track.
By Monday afternoon, we had a working sink and toilet once a again. Wednesday night, as my mom played games with the boys upstairs, Mike and I spent hours finishing up details- hanging the mirror, setting out accessories, changing the lights and hardware pieces and switching our old dirty outlets for shiny new white ones. We completed the little things that finish a space, but take just was much time as the larger, more cumbersome items. In the end, though, every large purchase, every little detail was worth it… worth having a space we’re proud of and happy to share with guests that come into our home.