Have you ever remodeled the only bathroom in your house? I’ve done it twice with mixed results. The most valuable thing that you get out of the experience, aside from a hopefully much-improved bathroom, is learning who your partner really is.
Fortunately in both cases, we were able to agree on colors and designs and such. But I learned a great deal from the first remodel that I never want to repeat. It was a freakin’ nightmare. This time around has been stressful, but ultimately a lot more pleasant.
For starters, We ripped the first bathroom all the way down to the studs, including removing the floor. This meant a makeshift bathroom in the back yard for what seemed like an eternity. If at all possible, avoid this. If you can do parts of the remodel with long extended breaks in between, your relationship will remain on a much sturdier foundation.
For example, we focused on the walls this time. We removed some horrendous wallpaper, did some wall repair, and primed and painted. We replaced the light. And we recessed the medicine cabinet. We did not deal with the floor or the tub or the surround, or the paneling on the lower half of the wall. These are future projects. The counter will be replaced eventually, too. The toilet is staying put, so there was no need to do our business in the out of doors, which, believe me, gets old quickly.
In the first remodel, I would work the graveyard shift, then come home and work on the bathroom for another 8 hours for weeks on end. My boyfriend would come home to find me fast asleep. He would never see me working, and therefore insisted he was doing all he work. Granted, he would work super hard on it on the weekends, on the plumbing and flooring. But jeez, this became a gigantic bone of contention.
Sledge hammering the tiled shower stall was actually cleansing amongst all this tension. But the insulation, dry wall, paint, glass block window, and the custom made and stained cabinets didn’t appear as if by magic. It still stuns me that anyone would think that they did.
Doing this type of thing also teaches you, rather quickly, that no two people have the same skill sets. If you can identify those skill sets, it’s a lot easier to divide up the labor. You also have different energy and patience levels. There’s nothing wrong with that if you are aware of those differences and are willing to accommodate them.
But it never occurred to me, the first time around, that a plumber wouldn’t realize that a toilet shouldn’t be right up against a wall so you’d get to rub your shoulder against someone’s urine splatter for the rest of your life. Another common sense thing, in my opinion, is to realize that if you break something, you should own up to it and repair it, not leave it for someone else to do. That’s called integrity. These are challenges I did not have to face this time.
Remodeling a bathroom teaches you about commitment levels, respect, patience, skill, critical thinking, taste, and integrity. Who’d have thought? Not me.
But in both projects, no one committed murder and the bathrooms were much nicer when all was said and done. It’s really wonderful to be able to sit on the toilet with a smile upon one’s face. It’s very satisfying.
If your relationship survives a single bathroom remodel unscathed, you can pretty much count on happily ever after, as far as I’m concerned. I think the key to this is spacing the project out, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, but ultimately it’s more about choosing the right partner.
Our freshly painted walls with our brand new light, before the cabinets went back up.
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