For the last two years, we’ve focused almost every bit of our attention on the first floor. It’s where we spend most of our time, and with the kitchen finally checked off, we’re calling the main level done-for-now! That said, the second floor – with the exception of studio updates and the smaller work room – has taken a big time back seat.
At the same time, I don’t think it’s fair to downplay how much energy we’ve put into laying the groundwork upstairs! During round one of our home’s renovation, we did shuffle quite a few things around on the second level – taking down a (crooked) wall, eliminating an unnecessary closet and opening the second floor landing, and while we were at it, we nixed the second kitchen in favor of a master suite. I told you that we were feeling refreshed and invigorated after our cross-country journey, and I wasn’t kidding. Next on the agenda? The whole bedroom-slash-bathroom-slash-laundry-room chunk of our house, tucked away in the back half of the second floor, here:
We have been looking forward to this day so hard. Not to take any joy away from the work we’ve put into the downstairs (so far), but the most personal part of our home has been sorely neglected, and we are really, really excited to get going on these rooms that should be considered more of a retreat. I took photos of the bed, bath and laundry rooms over the weekend, and I’ll share each one in their own post. These three rooms could easily be classified as our home’s ’embarrassment’ in their own right, and so I’ll say this: Can we still be friends after we give you the tour?
I mean, let me explain.
Before the first phase of demolition (two years ago!), these three rooms were okay, I guess. To be honest, I feel like we both sort of blocked out how bad things really were, as we had a lot of issues to address – damaged carpet and an insect issue (I cringe!) among other things – but we definitely made things even worse by ripping out problem areas and not always following up with temporary solutions that could hold us over. We knew these three rooms would need a complete overhaul eventually, so it felt silly to throw money, no matter how small, at the problem if we couldn’t just do it right the first time. We liken these rooms to the broken window theory – once the neglect started, it quickly escalated, and so we have missing floorboards, cracked tile and molded caulk and, well, it’s like all hell has broken loose!
You poor rooms, you. Needless to say, we’ve been planning for this day for a long, long time, and now, we’re really doing it!
Today, let’s narrow down our focus and talk about the bathroom. No matter how hard we scour those walls, tiles and sink, they never (ever!) look clean. Like, ever. This entire room received a fresh scrub down before I snapped a single photo, but it’s the most unsatisfying cleaning routine you can imagine. I actually get angry cleaning this room; it makes me mean. What a waste of time!, I say. We should have just torn down this whole house!, I’ll shout. (At this point, Scott, ever helpful, will swoop in with a glass of wine.)
To this point, the bathroom received a new solid wood door, and we took out the old medicine cabinet and sliding glass shower door. After adopting our Chocolate-y Chunk, we picked up a handheld shower head for the doggie bath time routine, but that’s where the improvements stopped!
The tiles have been missing their grout since move-in day, and the only thing holding them down is a sad strip of duct tape. Baseboards were caulked but never smoothed, and we can’t even talk about the shower without me getting anxious; it’s just a big, hot mess, and again, I’m happy to say that we’re finally doing something about it!
Feeling overwhelmed by the renovation possibilities, we put a call out for help on our Instagram a few months ago. To choose finishes would have been one thing, but we were also looking to push back a wall and rearrange the layout, and we wanted to make sure we were doing things properly and to code. As a result, we found Jen*, a designer by trade who has been our saving grace on every level. We’ve been working with her for the last couple of months on these key items:
• Space planning
• What’s possible versus what isn’t
• Contractor wrangling and negotiating
Jen came over for a full tour, and we gave her our whole rundown of wishes, needs and would-like-to haves. We told her what was important to us (double sinks!) and what wasn’t (a separate tub and shower). Because Scott and I have been tossing around ideas for almost two years now, we gave her an earful, and she was kind, patient and incredibly informative. In the end, she presented us with four different plans, and together, we frankenstein-ed all the essential elements and layouts into one just-right space plan. Below is our starting point, with notes on demolition:
By the end, our hope is to have three rooms that look more like this:
For the bathroom, this will mean pushing back the shared laundry wall several feet, making way for a double sink and allowing more room around the toilet; as it stands right now, the toilet is practically hugging the wall, which is awkward at best.
We’ll also be swapping the placement of the toilet and sink, and the plumbing in the shower will move to the inside wall. Below is a mock up of what could be nice – a trough style sink with wall mounted faucets, double mirrors and a pair of sconces, although a lot of these decisions are still being pinned down and nothing is set in stone – yet. There are many other factors in play, too, such as a ceiling vent (for the first time if you can believe it!), central overhead light, shower lighting, proper outlets at the proper heights, and we’re currently wading through piles of tile and wallpaper samples. It’s all so, so exciting!
Jen helped us meet with three contractors and presented us with quotes, a service that felt invaluable and worth the entire cost of her fee, in our opinion! For the bathroom, the contractor will run all the plumbing roughs, handle all electrical and prep the bathroom for tile and paint. We’ve since hired the team that fit us best and signed a contract. As we’ve been doing and to save some money, Scott and I will be tackling most of the demolition ourselves in the coming weeks.
Next up, the bedroom!
*If anyone in the Chicagoland area needs a Jen in their life, let us know (or comment below), and we’ll get you connected! It’s surprisingly affordable, and a time (and headache!) saver.