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Fresh Eyes Column

by Caroline Downs

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Happy to be wrong . . .

Posted 4/03/13 (Wed)

Home remodeling projects stress me under the best of conditions.

The best of conditions means:

A.) The project can be completed within two weekends.

B.) I am absent from the site for the majority of the project’s duration.

C.) I am looking forward to the outcome of the project.

D.) The project does not involve the kitchen or bathroom in any way, or shutting off electricity or water for more than 15 minutes.

So at the end of last October (yes, October 2012), the husband and his father started tearing out the plaster in the one bathroom of our old farmhouse.

As of the end of March 2013 (five months later for you numbers people), the bathroom is almost complete.

We still have towel bars to hang and trim to put up around the floor and doorway. We also need to install a cabinet for storage, but we have to order one.

And I will admit right here: I was wrong.

Yes, we’ve lived in the house for 12 years and renovated several other rooms by this point, but we had never touched the bathroom.

A bathroom that was lovely, I’m sure, in its day. A bathroom that was a luxury to the home’s former occupants, with a tub and a sink and a flush toilet.

The outhouse still stands behind the old garage, and I have NOT been inspired to renovate that building.

But our bathroom was more than dated, with pink plastic tiles falling off the walls, pink floral wallpaper peeling back from the humidity, and old ivory linoleum crumbling around the edges of the floor.

The mirror and vanity were both large, but the plumbing needed to be updated to fix a leaking sink faucet and a ventilation fan needed to be installed.

And the shower needed to be moved from its cubicle in a former closet outside the bathroom.

Again, I know this was a wonderful bathroom in its time, and I came to appreciate the placement of the shower, which allowed for someone to use the bathroom sink and mirror separately.

So, when the husband started his plans for the new bathroom, I was less than enthusiastic. I would be losing space.

Which is one reason I didn’t nag him to work on the bathroom through most of November, December and the first week of January, during bird hunting season.

When he took up his tools again and starting hinting strongly I should look at vanities, I resisted.

All I could envision was being crammed into a tiny room to take a shower and fix my hair, so I did not participate.

The husband chose the shower tile. He chose the plumbing fixtures, he chose the overhead light and fan, and he chose the first shower curtain.

I reluctantly helped install the sheetrock, but that was about it. I watched the tile go up to create a shower and saw the new fixtures plumbed in around the tub. I allowed myself to be dragged to a home improvement store to select a vanity and sink, which I did prefer to what had been in there.

Kind friends and relatives would ask about the improvements. My father-in-law would call for updates. “Won’t it be nice to have a new bathroom?” everyone asked.

“No,” I would grumble. “It’ll be so small.”

Finally, the wise husband sent me to Alaska in early March for a visit while he did the hard work of converting water lines and installing the floor tile and sink.

When I came home, the work was almost done. In fact, the old shower WAS done, disconnected.

So then I had to establish a new bathroom routine--find a place to put my towels, learn how to control the water temperature for the new shower, remember to turn on the ventilation fan before stepping into the tub.

It has all been AWESOME. Despite the small square footage, I am delighted.

This is the best shower we’ve EVER had.

The vanity is taller than average, which places the sink at a perfect height for people with long legs and arms.

We re-hung the large mirror in a new frame built by the husband, so the room feels more expansive.

In fact, I volunteered to prime and paint the walls. I’ve willingly gone back to the home improvement store more than once to choose towel bars, wall rings and the all-important toilet paper stand that features a small basket to hold magazines.

And I will tell anyone who asks that I am happy to be wrong about this remodeling project.

Now, the only room left to redo on the main floor is the kitchen, which is another story....