A little facelift goes a long way!

ctlady_gwMarch 15, 2013

For those of you who might have seen my pleas for help with an old ceramic towel bar mount (broken) and a thick mud job tile surround that we were unable, for many solid (pun intended) reasons including the need to avoid undue demo to protect an in-ceiling radiant heating system, to remove... here are before and after pictures of our little hall bath with a cosmetic facelift that should buy it a few more years!

Before (circa 1959):

And today:

And for those who followed the ceramic towel bar angst, the old shower (with broken-and-glued-back towel bars):

and the new:

Closeups that show what a few sheets of glass mosaic can do... it's a patch, yeah, but who cares...

And finally... my "what towel bar?" photo!

A very modest facelift but what a world of difference!

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very clever and looks like you scrubbed up the grout also. You wouldn't want a towel bar inside the shower, anyways.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Great job! When I saw the before picture I was hoping you wouldn't get rid of your floor tiles.
How did you remove the tiles where the towel bar was without wrecking the surrounding tiles?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Divotdiva -- we didn't touch the grout, believe it or not. It was perfect to begin with (another good reason not to gut the mud job -- both tiles and grout were pristine, not a chip anywhere, just a broken towel bar bracket).

Nosoccermom -- we couldn't remove the floor even if we'd wanted to. Our hot water (copper pipes) runs in the ceilings, so it's in the FLOOR of the second floor rooms (being the ceiling of the first floor) ... so basically, with pipes running in a dizzying maze on 4" centers, encased in plasterboard, in all the ceilings, one just doesn't mess around with anything that "ain't broke" -- so the floor stayed because the old copper pipes couldn't endure the vibrations of a full demo (at least, we didn't think they could!)

I removed the towel mounts myself (eyes closed, hammer in hand) -- remarkably, even the one that had broken at some point over the years and been glued back in with some earlier era version of liquid nails came out. The tile guy didn't want to touch it because he said the "whole wall might come down!" but I think we got lucky. Just the single tiles were affected, and the contractor was able to drill them out with his Dremel drill. He did have to take out more than he'd planned by the tub faucet because of collateral damage when he first started (and before he found a better drill bit at HD!) But I like the effect, and am now looking for cool blue-green glass knobs for the new cabinet next to the sink. If I'd known how much I was going to love the glass mosaic, I'd have had the contractor design the cabinet top to be tiled (instead, it's marble) -- give a bit of "bling" in the window. But alas, the marble was ordered and the cabinet done before I had that eureka moment. But if that marble ever breaks....

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:16PM
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What a great facelift! I love that glass tile! Can you tell me the name/company of it? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:12PM
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The tile is listed on the invoice as "7/8" x 7/8" Rainforest Glass, meshed, Mekong." I just love the pop of color it gives (and wish I could have used it elsewhere -- the tile shop owner suggested actually just framing some sections and hanging them as wall art... I may still do that with some of the leftovers).

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:32PM
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Love it, you've got a great new bathroom! The window is beautiful. What an inspiration.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:47PM
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I love what you've done. That glass mosaic is so very pretty. I agree with the suggestion of framing some sections of it, maybe several small (6" x 6"?) squares and arrange them in a grouping... that would look cool! I hope you'll post more pics and let us know what you do.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:42AM
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Small changes, big difference! :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Wow great job! The original floor is so groovy. Love it and the sconces and soothiong wall color. Can you please give me the details on thoses?

Gotta tell you the shower wall "patch is genius and I'm going to totally steal it if possible.

I have a small bath downstairs with a small shower stall that typically only got used if we had a house full of guests or to shower off from the pool. It has a door from the outside. We bought new in 1988 and installed a low flow shower head early on and over time the shower flow was down to a trickle and now not a drop. Take off the head, nothing, remove the handles and valves and water blasts from there, so obviously something is blocking the 2' or so of pipe from above. Probably rocks and stuff in the pipe since original construction and we never caught it to fix them because of the low flow head.
Only solution was to bust out the wall and retile. The tile is pristine since it got more use storing pool floats than anything else. For a remodel I wanted same white tile and a vertical strip of accent tile just to jazz it up; maybe arabesque. Can't do much since it's so small. Now I'm thinking I might be able to save the original tile and add my accent where they'd have to open he wall to unblock or change that pipe! Top to bottom and change the faucet, etc.
No plumber has ever suggested this would even be possible so thanks for the inspiration!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:48PM
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Island -- the sconces are from Justice Design Group (fabulous lighting source, incredible stuff!) at www.jdg.com. It's the "Modular" model from their Fusion group with the "short cylinder" shade. We had an incredibly limited space (since the angled wall above them precluded re-lamping for many of the ones we liked) so thankfully, these worked and we LOVE the modern look combined with the pedestal sink and mid-20th century tile, etc.

The wall color is BM Palladian Blue (suggested by one of the posters here to work with the blue-aqua tile, and it's perfect).

I have to say, I had a contractor willing to tackle getting the tiles out, and once he found the "right" bit for his Dremel drill (which he didn't have when he first started) it went very smoothly -- by the time he got to the two singleton tiles where the towel bar had been, I asked him how confident he was of getting JUST the single tiles out, and he said "very" and indeed, he had no trouble. However, if your house is circa 1988, I suspect your tiles will be MUCH easier to remove, because they are probably not in a really thick old mud job like ours. I was told that had they been a newer installation, they could probably be "popped" off with the right tools. It was only because these were circa 1959 and in mud that so much drilling was involved.

Go for it! One thing I learned from this "simple" remodel is that having contractors who just won't accept "can't be done" is invaluable. Even my electrician managed to get ventilation fans AND lights into ceilings where copper heating pipes run on 4" centers. He used a heat sensor to find the pipes (after I cranked up the heat!), then drilled perfect holes between them. Now we have fans AND lights in the two remodeled baths -- neither of which I thought remotely possible! (When I told him before he started that we "understood we probably can't make that work" he looked at me and said "oh, I don't like to hear THAT" and indeed, he made everything work.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 6:24PM
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Wow! Good job! Just a nosy question... how do you get into the right side of cupboard under window? Looks like door won't open very far. Do you sort of treat it like a blind corner, and reach in from left side?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Yep, raehelen, that's exactly what we do ... that was the only "misstep" in the whole process; both we and the contractor thought that door would open more than it does (though not completely) because we didn't calculate the sink size correctly. However, I take comfort in the fact that it's no worse than it was before, when the whole right side of the formica cabinet that was there before was inaccessible. And with the left door open and the right open as far as it goes, I can actually see what's in there. So it's my storage for the "things-I-never-use" and the big packs of stuff I can easily reach from the centerline. But it's going to annoy the next owner of the house, no question! And the contractor did ask if I knew it wasn't going to open all the way beforehand (answer was yes) but we still wanted the look of the two doors. Might have done better with a false drawer front and then lower cabinet doors but even those wouldn't have opened all the way (though they would have cleared the sink itself) and every houseguest would be trying to open the drawer... so we just live with it. It's a guest bath that gets very little use. I think if it were a primary bath getting everyday use, it might bug me more. Might someday go with a smaller profile pedestal sink, or a wall hung one, but for now, we just deal. :)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:05PM
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I probably only noticed, cuz the door on the vanity in my MB doesn't open all the way either. I have lived here for over 15 years, and until we started this reno, had never even realized that! Hoping that the new bath with all drawers and wide open space (present toilet sits right in front of vanity preventing door from fully opening) will be a treat! Present vanity has zero drawers! LOL

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Your bathroom facelift is refreshing! Good job on the tile tool. :)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:46PM
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Thanks for the additional details and tip about the Justice Design Group. Will definitely check that out. Hope my tile comes out easily if I go that route. Your "can do" contractor sounds like one in a million you lucky woman you!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:32PM
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Smart and stylish. I love facelifts like this. You did a great job, and left the bath with some personality!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Thanks, gmp3... it was actually a lot of fun to try to figure out the challenges on this one! Gutting would have been less of a challenge (well, maybe not for the contractor, but for us!) but we simply couldn't risk damage to the heating system by tearing out that late-1950's mud job, so we had to work with what we had. On the plus side, now that I've had the wall behind that tub area off and seen the thickness of that mud job (not to mention listening, from my adjoining office, for EIGHT hours straight while the plumber painstakingly drilled all those new holes in it!), I know that bathroom can double as a bomb shelter any day. Which is nice because we turned the REAL bomb shelter that's in the basement (remember: built in 1959!) into a wine cellar already... :)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 4:46PM
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Removed duplicate post.

This post was edited by ctlady on Mon, Mar 25, 13 at 9:57

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 9:56AM
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ctlady...I love the bomb shelter wine cellar. If you get nuked at least the wine will be safe. I hope you installed a bomb proof fridge for crackers and cheese!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 10:21AM
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I am so glad we went with a serene white and aqua-blue color palette. Makes accessorizing SO easy. Black works particularly well as a striking counterpoint to the soft color of the wall and the bright white of the sink. (I would also like to report that the Toto Promenade pedestal sink is a cost-effective addition to your remodel project, as it can double as a bed. Nice deep bowl. :)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Cute! What a great job on the bath, it looks super and I love the original tile -- and apparently I'm not the only one who likes it!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 12:56PM
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