Finished/Furnished: Bathroom

Finally, after three months of brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink, my bathroom is finished and fully functional! To be clear, my bathroom is a traditional 3-rooms-affair: From a room in the centre with the washbasin, doors lead to the adjacent toilet and shower room with the bathtub. In this case, toilet and shower were fully functional from the beginning, it was only the room in the centre I wasn’t happy with. There was no way I’d go and do anything in there. Guess why:

Yes, you’re looking at dirty wallpaper, a missing mirror – not counting the one on the cabinet on the right wall since that was broken – and an under-sink cabinet with severe water damage, which I didn’t even notice until a couple of weeks later when I first opened the thing… So, there was a lot to do.

I started out removing the wallpaper and painting the walls, because I thought this would be the easiest thing to do. Well… Did you know that stripping wallpaper isn’t quite that easy? I wish I had known this earlier, but the paper is not the problem, it’s the glue underneath. Anyway, I can now recommend a concoction of hot water, a tiny splash of dish soap and a generous spoonful of baking powder. Once the wallpaper was gone and the walls were dry again, the painting itself was finished relatively quickly, even though I needed three coats of paint plus primer. But I really wanted that annoying paper gone.

Next step: That cabinet… that colour… That’s all I wanted to do: Paint the thing. But it turned out to be the biggest challenge of this whole renovation and the main reason why it took so long.

As I mentioned above, the entire bottom had more or less rotted through and needed replacing, probably because of a leak in the drainpipe. Similarly, most of the screws that held the doors in place were rusted into the cheap wood. Even my carpenter’s power tools weren’t a match for them, and finally, he had to use good old brute force to remove the doors.

Once I had ripped out the bottom of the cabinet with the help of my grandfather’s favourite 30 cm (not pictured) screwdriver, the whole tragedy of the bathroom unfolded. Not only were there remnants of roaches underneath the cabinet… but the flooring you see in front of it doesn’t reach underneath it. Meaning: all there is is the wooden under-floor. Those orange tiles also only go as far as the cabinet is high and deep, the sides and the backs are essentially untreated, bare wall.

While I was busy measuring the new bottom and painting all the parts of the now mostly disassembled cabinet, I asked my carpenter to drill me some holes for the towel racks. This simple tasks – 12 holes, no biggie, eh? – turned into a one-hour odyssey. At that point, we found out that while the walls are standard timber frame, the spaces in between are filled with non-standard concrete. In other words, different spots required different screws and anchor plugs, even if they were just 5 cm apart. My carpenter was not pleased, obviously, and I cannot imagine how he could refrain from cursing throughout the ordeal. Anyway, how he made sure everything’s on the same height is quite impressive:

Before putting in the new bottom, I had to do something about the old top of the cabinet. No way I’d leave it this way, ugly and stained as it was. Because the top is of a material that is hard to paint, I decided on using some sticker paper around the wash basin. Unfortunately, I needed to use four strips of the sticker paper, which don’t come together perfectly, but it turned out quite alright – for a first try. Then, I was finally ready to put in the bottom and a new front board, while using some chopsticks as wedges to push the cabinet upright and against the back wall again.

Finally, I could put in the now painted front doors again. Painting them wasn’t quite as easy either, because the doors were covered in some sort of laminate – perfect for a bathroom, almost impossible to paint over. As mentioned, Pumpkin tried to impress his own ideas on this, but I’m not really into this kind of modern art, so plain blue it is. Of course, since I love a good challenge, I replaced the small swing door at the bottom right with a drawer. As the top right is also a drawer, I can now utilize the whole depth of that part of the cabinet. That alone took me two extra weeks.

Finishing touches were a large mirror in front of the window, a pretty noren to replace the dirty accordion door, and I even bought blue towels to complete the look of this photo. What do you think?

There are still a few small things to do: I’m considering getting new fittings, the old ones are… weird. Also, it’s surprisingly hard to find the right sized plug for the wash basin; I’m on number 4 now, which is too big again. And finally, I haven’t touched the ceiling at all, which still has the old wallpaper on it. It has aged into an orange-y colour, and would thus fit the colour scheme, but it does look dirty compared to the walls, so I want to do something about it. Eventually. Not right now. Let me enjoy my bathroom as it is for now. I’m not looking up that often anyway.