The very first time I toured my house, I knew it was the one for me.
It called to me, it welcomed me, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I had only been to one other house before looking at this one and I knew after 15 minutes that I was home.
There were a few things that really stood out to me about this house. First, the porch was nice enough and the owners had left their front windows open, so I knew it was a safe neighborhood. Second, the back yard was adorable, the patio, the fence and the fresh mulch were all a reddish color and their was a decent sized shed in the very back of the yard. There was also a swing set back there, which was perfect for my 4 & 5 year olds to play on. Inside of the house it looked simple and cozy, very organized and it felt huge. The defining moment was when I saw the pantry or as we now call it the “trap”.
See that piece of wood along the right side? Yeah, that folds down and that is how you walk into the pantry. It’s right off of the kitchen, in the stairwell to the basement. It’s original to the house and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
This post isn’t about the trap or the pantry though.
This post is about the other really cool thing I loved about my house and about how naïve I really was as a first time home buyer. The bathroom.
Ah. The bathroom. I can remember describing it as a Ralph Lauren bathroom. Why? I really don’t know, the wall paper just seemed so quaint but looking back I realize Ralph Lauren was definitely not the style. Nope, the style was really what I would now call “Shabby Cover Up”.
It looked cute. Wooden (laminate) floors, a cloudy looking (textured) ceiling and cheerful but classic (mold trapping) wall paper. It was a nice long room with a large window on the outside wall.
With no ventilation system.
Here’s an idea folks, lets add a textured ceiling and paint it with flat paint then throw up some wall paper in a room with terrible ventilation and air circulation! Oh, and just for kicks, instead of refinishing the original tile floor, lets put laminate squares on top of it so that water can get trapped under them and make them brittle and trap odor!
Now, I am sure that honestly whoever decided to add these “features” to this room didn’t foresee the huge problems that they would create further down the line. Sometimes it takes making a mistake to learn things right?Unfortunately, those people don’t live here any more and may not ever learn the lesson behind these “upgrades.” Luckily, for me, I have learned two things.
1. Dont buy a house with out a ventilation fan in the bathroom if there is flat paint, a textured ceiling, linoleum, or wallpaper on the walls.
2. Don’t add flat paint, a textured ceiling, linoleum floors, or wall paper to a bathroom. Whether there is a ventilation fan or not.
I will never take the risk of having to go through what I went through to get this bathroom in a mold free and mold resistant state again. EVER.
It was about 3 years after living here that I realized that this bathroom was becoming a big problem. Despite leaving the window open at all times, I noticed that not only was the wallpaper peeling off of the walls, but even worse, little black specks of mold were growing. I tried bleaching the ceiling as best as I could, but it never fully worked and just seemed to get worse.
That year I decided it was time to remove the wall paper and started to do some research. I was scared to death to take the wall paper down, not because of what was to come (I had NO idea what I was in for) but because I heard somewhere along the way that wall paper was hard to remove.
I spoke with my Dad, I read the articles, I went to the Home Depot and picked up the spray, sponge and needle tool scraper thing I was told I would be using to get the paper down.
I was scared.
I let that stuff sit in the basement and collect dust for a few months before I worked up the courage to remove the paper.
Around that time I was also doing research about the proper mold removal and the removal of a textured ceiling. If it was possible to remove I wanted to do it because the ceiling was looking like this:
Then one day (about a year and a half ago) I decided I was armed with enough knowledge and nerve to finally remove the wall paper. I was feeling confident and I will admit, the first hour went pretty smoothly.
Then from there everything went down hill.
The wallpaper removing supplies worked well. So well in fact, that they started removing the paint from the walls. Yup layers of 1 hundred year old paint. But only in some places. The other places, the upper layer of paper came down, but the stuff under that (the glue paper stuff) wouldn’t budge.
I worked on “removing the wallpaper” for hours and days but was finally so pissed off, frustrated and in over my head I gave up.
For a year in a half.
And so my bathroom looked like this:
Did I say I gave up for a year and a half? Well, it is true.
I left the bathroom like that and laughed about the dilapidated state it was in when people came over for all that time, but deep down it was eating me up inside.
Another epic fail just eating away at my core.
So onto my list it went: Finish Bathroom.
I should have broken it down much better though, had I known truly what it installed it would have been more like this:
- Remove remaining wall paper
- remove 12 layers of paint
- remove 1 layer of lead paint
- re-plaster and skim coat walls
- bleach ceiling
- bleach walls
- scrape down ceiling
- sand walls
- remove new plaster that was not put up correctly by me
- skim coat those areas
- sand walls again
- prime walls and ceiling with MOLD and MILDEW RESISTANT PRIMER
- paint ceiling and walls with MOLD and MILDEW RESISTANT PAINT *sidenote: can you imagine? they make that stuff, just for bathrooms?! wow, you don’t need wallpaper and flat paint?!
- second coat!
- sand and repaint window frame, over the toilet shelf, and heater cover.
- second coat
- remove linoleum floor tiles
- get high as hell and almost die from the fumes of the turpentine needed to remove the glue from the tiles
- scrub the shit out of the original tiles
- silicone the edges and crack of tile until I can re-grout
YUP, I DID IT ALL.
Of course it took me over two weeks, a shit load of pain meds and self pep talks to get through it. I threw myself into one hell of a flare and prayed that I would die nightly but I have to tell you that for once, the pain was worth it. I am so proud of myself. So flipping proud.
So I am crossing off “Get bathroom done” and any other physical thing I had on my list, like go to the gym, do a cartwheel, etc. because Lord knows, I worked my ass off on this project and didn’t list it properly. Also, I won’t be doing any of those things, any time soon, maybe even ever again.
Mind you, I still need to remove the old floor grout and replace it and I only used supplies, including the paint that I had in my basement, so I think the walls might get repainted a better color sometime before the end of the year.
I also want to refurb my tub, get a new sink, vanity lights, a new ceiling light, a ventilation fan, a window treatment and some art but I don’t have the money for that fun stuff yet and the hard part is over. The bathroom is done but it will be looking prettier by the time I am really finished.
And here she is today: