Days of Demolition and Discovery

Footprint of former bathtub

This is where my bathtub used to be.

In fact, there used to be a wall, a toilet, a sink and other such bathroom necessities. The demolition has begun for our vintage bathroom renovation. After two days and too much noise, everything was taken out. The floor tiles and the countertop tiles had all been installed in a thick layer of concrete over metal mesh, which was the norm until the late 1950′s when thin set mortar was invented.

Counter after tile was removed from top

The walls were covered with white tile wainscoting and removing the tile revealed a layer of tar paper, a layer of cheesecloth for the original 1920′s wallpaper, and then the final foundation of shiplap wood. For the demo, the workers broke everything up into small pieces and carried it downstairs in 5 gallon buckets (many, many trips down the stairs and to the dumpster).

Peeling back the layers of tile, tar paper and cheesecloth on walls

Detail of wall and strip of found wallpaper from 1920's

The bathroom is next to a small bedroom or sitting room, so we are expanding the bathroom into that space and creating a connected dressing room. While removing some drywall in that room, we found this strip of very old wallpaper with a Roman style scene that includes fish and chariots and ancient symbols. We were told by the previous owners that this eccentric wallpaper was discovered in many other rooms, which is difficult to imagine.

View from hall into future dressing room

View from dressing room into former bathroom

Our contractor, Roger Wood, and his crew were very careful during every stage of demolition considering the age of our house. They saved all the original, seasoned shiplap wood that was removed so that we can use it to patch up other walls. They preserved any stray bits of wallpaper and any original hardware, as well. Despite the mess during the unraveling of my bathroom, they left the room neat as a pin at the end of every day.

A few tips for your next demolition and renovation:

1. Tape down heavy canvas drop cloths on all floors leading through the house to the demo zone. Cover vents with plastic so that sawdust will not float into the duct work.

2. Clearly mark any items that should not be torn out. For example, I used masking tape and a marker to label a linen cabinet as a “keeper”. Let there be no question what stays and what goes.

3. Save all hardware and fixtures, especially in an old house, until the project is complete.  Re-purpose what you can and take anything usable to Habitat for Humanity. Some of those old fixtures could be vintage and worth a few bucks on the re-sale market.

Pumped Up Pumpkins

Pumped Up Pumpkins

Halloween has passed, so now we are in full fledged Holiday season!!!  You have to put  away the ghost, goblins and spiders but the pumpkins can stay out for another month.  In an attempt to find new options for my mantle I came across these great DIY pumpkin ideas. This glitter pumpkin will add sparkle [...]

Pegboard Inspiration from Julia

Pegboard Inspiration from Julia

While having a relaxing “mom movie” night watching Julie & Julia, I discovered not only the joy of cooking but the joy of the pegboard (don’t laugh). Towards the end of the movie, Julia Child is in her kitchen, hanging up her pots and pans. Her husband was outlining each piece so it would be [...]

Bright Idea: Hanging Pillows

Bright Idea: Hanging Pillows

For those who have small dining and kitchen areas, I often suggest built-in banquette seating to maximize the space. A banquette allows you to carve out little dining nooks in oddly shaped rooms or to double the width of free space in rectangular rooms. The long bench seat is perfect for piling up the kids [...]

A Little Bit is Better Than Nada

A Little Bit is Better Than Nada

There’s a Texas Tornado’s song that goes, “A little bit is better than nada, sometimes you want the whole enchilada”. Maybe it’s my craving for TexMex or maybe I’m just consoling myself, but these lyrics keep popping up in my head. When I think of all the decorating projects I want to do, the mundane [...]

Q & A: Seeking Side Tables for Lonely Sofa

Q & A: Seeking Side Tables for Lonely Sofa

“We just got rid of a bunch of old furniture that we weren’t crazy about, and have a rug, wall color, and sofa that we like.  I need end tables, but am having a hard time imagining what shape/size tables would work best.  We will probably be either making them, or refurbishing them, so I [...]

Fun with Modge Podge Never Ends

Fun with Modge Podge Never Ends

Do you know what’s really fun? It’s having your old projects just pop up and surprise you. Today, my friend Rachel, a writer for Craft, clued me in on something that hit her crafty radar. My DIY tutorial for wallpaper decals has surfaced again! This was a post on Apartment Therapy last year, but apparently [...]

Spark Saves Your Sanity

Spark Saves Your Sanity

Q: So I was just in my kitchen baking a cake from scratch and wondering to myself. . . where can I possibly receive free advice to help me in my decorating dilemmas? I get stuck obsessing over paint colors and picture placement until I simply can’t sleep at night (unless I take an Ambien). [...]