Washroom Overhaul Part 1

Posted in My Home

Let me introduce you to my washroom-

When I bought my house back in 2011, I knew that it was a flip and that I would probably encounter a few questionable repairs and reno’s.  Coming from a family that built houses and apartment buildings, I am not easily intimidated when it comes to building and renovations-there’s always a solution.  What becomes slightly intimidating is how much those solutions will cost…

Getting back to the washroom.

Like I said, when I bought the house, there were a few things that I noticed.  One of them was a cracked floor tile in the washroom.  That can be the result of numerous things: improper installation, old house that shifts from season to season, someone dropped something, etc.

My almost century home was once a duplex-back in 1928 and became a single family home in the 1960’s or 70’s so basically what they did back then was take the tiny washroom that was common in those days and the bedroom behind it and make one big washroom to accommodate a bath and a shower (and I would say that this would have been done later than the 70’s).


Thing is, when renovating, it’s important to ask questions or maybe consult with a professional.  I always say that there are 3 reasons people make mistakes when undergoing a renovation project: either they lack the knowledge, or they lack the necessary funds to do it right, or they simply don’t care.

I would say, in my case, it was probably a combination of the three….

Let me begin-

Remember that cracked tile?

This spiked my curiosity.  I figured, when looking around the doorways, that there must be hardwood floor underneath those tiles.

Why not remove the tiles (which seemed to pop up quite easily) and just have hardwood?  I loved the idea so I got to it (without warning anyone).

I started in front of the shower and I was thrilled to bits when the tile came off so easily and confirming what I thought…there was hardwood floor underneath 😀  and it was beautiful.  I was so proud to have found such a simple solution!!!

So in comes in Marcel (time flies when you’re having fun) and with a look a discouragement asks me what is going on.

So I proceed to explain to him my theory and my plans.

I did not get the reaction I expected.  Instead he started to explain to me that my euphoria was probably going to end soon.  He suspected that the floor had probably been cut as some point to pass pipes through 🙁 but since I had already started destroying the existing floors I might as well just keep going.

Notice where my hopes were ruined-where the hardwood ends 🙁

If there was any moment in my life that I can say for sure that following our intuition was in our best interest, it was that time when I decided to continue ripping those tiles off because had we not we would have had major problems.  Not only had they cut through the hardwood floors, like expected, but they also cut through floor supports leaving our bathtub sitting on basically nothing.  So essentially our tub would have eventually ended up in the dining room.  Now, whether it would have ended up on the first floor either with us in it or not we’ll never know-Thank God…

Where we discovered that the floor supports had been cut through.

Walking around had become a little treacherous and I was always afraid the cat would wander under the floor and get stuck somewhere.

So what started off as a harmless little “fun” project for me turned out to be a major overhaul.  The upside to all of this was that, since everything was being torn out, I got the opportunity to change things around.

The layout of the washroom wasn’t the best-grouping everything to the middle and by the window.  That meant that when I came into the washroom, there was all this wasted space with nothing there except an IKEA cupboard that I had placed there to fill up the space.

You can tell by the painted walls that I had been somewhat lazy when I moved in and simply couldn’t be bothered to move the furniture.

My man-hard at work!

Now I got to change that-a silver lining.

My consolation prize.

So before my washroom layout was like this-

Now it was going to be like this-

But we had a ways to go and, unfortunately, not the budget for everything.  A lot of the money was going to be used to fix the floor, change the pipes around, and all that lovely fun stuff that costs so much but once covered up, doesn’t really show.  I guess “peace of mind” has a price to it.

This is where I get creative.  Tell me I don’t have the money to do something, and I will find a way to get it anyways-without spending.

Time to start thinking.

I want a new vanity but not the store bought one.

A nice antique I can convert…

That cost money.

Okay, we’ll make one.

Love the colour of those floor boards we just removed.


How about the raised panels that made up the bath tub skirt that I was definitely not putting back on?  New tongue and groove boards were going to be used for the tub surround.

I could retro fit those into doors-yep!

That lovely hardwood floor-the bits and pieces I would have to throw out…I could use them for the bottom of the cabinet.

Then, all I would need would be new hinges (knobs I had) and a minimum amount of wood for the framing.  The rest is recycled.

And this is the result 🙂

As I upgraded while keeping costs to a minimum I had to address the doors-the main door going into the washroom and the second one where you had access to the attic and the master bedroom.  The first door opened outward blocking the linen closet I was working on which meant that I would have to close one door to open the other.


Getting rid of the old doors was not an option.

The second, while opening inward, was still awkward.

The only solution I could up with was pocket doors but at the same time that would mean tearing down walls to insert the mechanism necessary and just the thought of doing that made my head ache but I needed to find a solution for these doors.  This was way before the barn door rails became all the rage with a bunch of DIY barn door rails on Pinterest…

So how could I have my doors sliding without knocking down walls?

Then I got an image of my garage doors that I had before I renovated the garage!

They slide back and forth-

I definitely kept those rails because I thought they were cool and would do something with them-eventually.

So with a little help and moaning and groaning from Marcel (he couldn’t see the uniqueness of this idea) I retro fitted those rails on both my washroom doors solving my problem.

I love the way these windows open and since it is facing south-west, the stained glass shows up so beautifully during sunny days.

The other issue I had was the old window that was still there.  I actually love that window but it was drafty and Marcel suggested we change it.


It’s the kind that opens to the inside but it needed a little love and it needed to stand out.  I took it apart, fixed the torn screen but instead of just re-caulking the window panes and hanging up curtains I decided to change them for stained glass panels which I designed and made myself (being a stained glass artist has its advantages) so now the window is a stand out feature in our washroom.

I think it is one of my favourite features in the washroom.

So now we had reached the end of our project.

We had exhausted our budget and our energy and, at the time, I was happy to repaint and put my final touches.  The floor was solid and tiled.  We knew that everything was up to code and that there would no surprises in the floor and in the walls.

We felt better knowing that it was safe and that’s the thing with old houses-as you take things apart, you can never really know what you’re going to find.  From decade to decade, as each owner determines how they will go about it and what materials they will use.

Some do the best they can and some people, well, should maybe ask for advice before undergoing major renovations.  Some should use common sense…

Although these renovations were done in 2014, when I go back to visit the pictures that I took back then for memories sake and to write this post, I realize that Marcel and I are lucky to be handy.  Had we had to hire a general contractor we never would have had the budget to get all this done.  We make a great team-he likes the roughing and my strength is the finishing work and final retails. We are proud of what we had accomplished and the patience we had to under take such a large project.

The end of part 1.  Part 2 would take place 4 years after!

So this is our washroom circa 2014 with the blue walls and all.  It wasn’t completely finished as we still had to address the shower but that would have to come later-much later because we had other issues to address!






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