Monday, January 25, 2010

Shower Stall. We has one. Well, almost.

I apologize for the lolspeak, but it only seems fitting, as through this whole shower building process it seems to be the cats favourite place to sit.

Just to refresh your memory, this is our inspiration for the shower stall.

image from

Nice, isn't it?  Basically that's a neo angle shower still waist high knee walls and a frameless glass door.

Unfortunately, we don't have the floor space to make ours quite that big, so I set about figuring out just how big we could make the shower and still leave a reasonable amount of space in front of the toilet.

We're visual type people, and like to be able to see what we're doing before the whole thing comes together.  So I whipped up something quickly at work one day to get an idea of the spacings we'd have, and sort of what this bathroom would look like when we were done.

The block beside the sink is the space the toilet will occupy.  With that model we were able to see how much room there was in front of the toilet and adjust the overall shower dimensions in order to maximize both the clearance in front of the toilet and the shower area.  A quick Google search revealed that the standard from the front of a toilet bowl to the closest obstacle should be 21" and that a comfortable shower size is at least 38".  While we weren't able to get the full 21" in front of the toilet, it'll still be comfortable.  Making sure the shower was big enough was slightly higher on our list of priorities.

Once we'd figured out all the math involved, it was time to start building.

Laying out the base.

Building up the knee walls.

Installing mold resistant drywall.

Ready for the shower pan.

We really wanted to be able to tile the floor of the shower, so one of the prefab shower kits from Home Depot was out, and we didn't want to have to deal with building up and properly sloping the pan ourselves with deck mud, so our best option was a Shluter Kerdi shower system.

image from

The kit comes with a presloped styrofoam shower pan, the special Kerdi drain and enough of their membrane to waterproof the entire shower stall.  The great thing about using this kit is that we could just cut the styrofoam pan down to the exact size and shape that we needed.

So with the hole cut out for the drain I made a template of the base of the shower stall and got to cutting.  Putting my degree in Engineering to good use we ended up with a pan that fit, in the words of Ace Ventura, like a glove.  Out jig saw made quick work of the cuts and soon Derek was mixing up thinset.

Using a v-notch trowel I got to work laying down the thinset.

See?  I do work too.

We laid down the pan (well, I did, Derek can't stand the sound of styrofoam rubbing together, so he removed himself from the room) and stamped it down.

Then, while Chloe warmed her butt on the new tray, Derek mixed up a bit more thinset to set the drain.

A few minutes later we had the drain set and called it a night.

By the time we finished setting the drain it was 3am.  Our plumber arrive bright and early at 7am the next day (I guess technically it was the same day, eh?) to finish the work he'd started earlier in the week.  Next time I'll show you all our fancy new plumbing, and the holes they made in my house to make it happen!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

You are electric?

Before we shared The Vision with you all we'd just finished up containing the magic.  Since then quite a bit has happened, but we can't share it all at once, now can we?

Last Friday night our good friends Tim and Jesse came by to help us with the electrical for the new bathroom.

Tim on the left, Jesse on the right, and our house is still incredibly dusty.

 Jesse was kind enough to run all new lines for our bathroom, and give it it's own dedicated breaker.  After Derek and Tim took a trip to our other house (Home Depot) for some supplies, we also had pot lights installed in the ceiling.  Derek and Tim also lowered (and leveled) the ceiling to a respectable 8', instead of the random arse 8 foot something.

With the ceiling now level and the wires all run, we turned out sights to some things that would fall into the category of "finishing", like drywall, and doors.

Derek hung (and rehung) the frame for the pocket door, drilled a hole through the wall for cables and insulated and poly'd the back wall of the bathroom.  The back wall used to be the exterior wall of the house, so it was rather thick and had a nice coat of stucco somewhere in the middle.  So, we borrowed a masonry bit from my stepdad and drilled straight through.

Speaks softly, carries a big drill.

Pocket door!

We drywalled the ceiling and the back wall (which then had to come down, but we'll tell you about that later) and then turned our sights to the construction of the knee walls for the shower stall.  But, I think we'll leave that for the next post.

I will, however, leave you with a few picture of the little cat.  Apparently our little Chloe likes to watch TV.

Watching Heidi Klum on Leno.

And the movie Eight Below.

What a nut.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Vision

Originally we thought that we'd design the bathroom off of a plate we got when we were on our honeymoon in Greece.


But we got such a great deal on marble time through Derek's work that the design idea has had to shift a little.  But we will find somewhere special in the house for the plate.

The tile we ended up with looks a little something like this:

Which as far as we can tell is white carrara and they are 12"x12".  The plan is to use 1/16" spacers and a white-ish grout that "goes" with the tile.

As far as the rest of the bathroom, we've got a few ides.  For the shower we're going to go with a neo-angle design set in the corner, with waist high knee walls and frameless glass doors.  A little something like this:

image courtesy of

Beautiful, isn't it?  Like the picture above we're planning on using subway tiles (also being acquired through the tiles guys at Derek's work) but adding in an accent of glass mosaic tile.  While hanging out at our new favourite store (that would be Home Depot) I put together this little mock up on the floor.  The marble is fairly close to what we have for out tiles.

As far as the vanity and sink goes, Derek found this picture on the Rona website that we both realllllly like:

image courtesy of

We've decided to go with the frosted natural glass counter top, kinda like this one from Rona:

image from

Now, instead of going with the white vanity like they've got in the picture above, we're planning on something more along this line:

I would love to find something old and reclaim it, but we'll have to see how that goes.

As for the wall colour, we're thinking that we'll go with something the matches the blue glass in the tile mosaic.

And now, to pull it all together into a "mood board" as those designer types are want to do:

 See?  Fancy!

Next time I'll show you what's happened so far.  That may or may not include a ceiling and shower walls!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Containing the Magic

Because this bathroom is going to be pure magic when it's finished.  And what do you contain magic with?  Walls of course!

As of the last entry Derek and I had just finished peeling "the onion" to reveal the original subfloor.  Once we had that all cleaned up we started putting 3/4" OSB plywood.  Glued and screwed as only Mr. Mike Holmes (or Mr. Derek) would insist on.

10 tubes of this stuff later:

image courtesy of PL

And a whoooooole lotta screw later, we're left with a little something that looks like this:

Ooooooo, pretty, floors!

Just to refresh your memories, the layout of the bathroom before was like this:

The new plan for the bathroom is this:

We eliminated the "door" between the hallway and the den, and are moving the door to the bathroom into the (newly named) library.  In order to make the best use of space we decided to go with a pocket door, so the opening you see now is where that will be.

The walls went up very quickly, because Derek is a framing all-star.  He's also a big fan of friction fits.  Seriously, we probably didn't even need to use nails to keep this wall in place (obviously we did).

The first wall being built:

And the first wall going up:

Don't you love a man in a tool belt?

Building the next wall:

Little Chloe playing supervisor to make sure things went according to plan:

The building of the last set of walls happened while I was doing the whole work thing (apparently staying home sick doesn't mean sleeping, it means building), so here's a shot of the finished walls!

Complete with Meka sighting, as we can't include one cat and not the other!

Basically, that's where we're at now.  Our good friend Jesse is coming by on Friday to help us with the electrical (because he knows how to do that kind of stuff), as well as Derek's best man Tim to help with some other random things.

After that we've got to get the plumbing sorted for the new shower.  We're still not sure if we'll be doing that one on our own, or calling in a professional.  Time to do some internet research I suppose!

Next time I'll share with you some of the design plans we have in mind!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Onion

When we moved in the main floor had 2 different types of flooring, awesome (crappy) wood laminate, and blue carpet.


Blue Carpet (trust me, it's blue)

With the tearing down and out of the wall between the bathroom and the den came the pretty much complete demo of the den, including tearing up the floor.

Pulling back the carpet revealed some of those sticky vinyl floor tiles that were popular back in the early 90's.

This sticky tile was stuck to a full covering of 1/4" underlay plywood, which Derek had a fun time puling up.  After bringing up the first sheet of plywood (which is oddly only 4'x4') we were greeted with nothing better than the 1970's in the form of a vinyl sheet.

Me, being the curios person that I am, started peeling back a bit of this awesome flooring to take a peak at what was underneath.  What was there, do you ask?  More vinyl!!  This time in a wood pattern more reminiscent of the 60's. 

Now, we weren't born yesterday, so we know that even back in the day when this house was built the flooring of choice wasn't vinyl sheet, so we knew there had to be at least one more layer under there.

So what did we find?


Here you can see the progression of the floor.  Carpet, sticky tiles, 70's vinyl, 60's vinyl, then the checkerboard linoleum.

I have to take a second here to tell you one of Derek's favourite jokes.

What do you get when you throw a grenade in a Parisian kitchen?
Linoleum Blownapart!

Ha, get it?  Linoleum Blownapart?  Napoleon Bonaparte?  Yeah, I know, it's Derek's joke.

Unfortunately I didn't get a photographic journey of how the floor came up in the bathroom, but Derek assures me that not only was it multi-layered, but it was also so tacky it was fantastic.  The bathroom had at least as many layers of flooring, but even more layers of 1/4" underlay between them.  I did get a shot when he first started pulling up the laminate though.

As of right now, all of the walls and floors (down to the subfloor) are gone.  I went out to get groceries and came home to this.

Zombie Demo crew for hire?  Frank!
An hour or two of cleanup later, it looks a little something like this.

Yes, this used to be a bathroom.

That's all for now.  We picked up a ton of lumber and all the plywood we need to strengthen and level the floor and build the new bathroom walls today, so I'll update again when there's actually something to look at because "Oh look!  The floor!" over and over might get a little redundant. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ringing, or rather Bashing, in the New Year

When we moved into the blue house on the corner we decided we'd wait on any renos until we'd lived in the house for a month.  You know, get a feel for the place first.  See what we liked and could live with and what we'd like to change.

Well, a month a two days after we moved in the demo began.

It started when I asked Derek if we could plan on having the walls moved for the new bathroom plan by the time we had our house warming party (January 23rd).  Derek almost immediately put down the Xbox controller and picked up a pry bar.

For the next 2.5-3 hours he tore down the walls in the bathroom on the main floor.

Here's what it looked like before he started:

The paneling was the first thing to come down, and then he started in on the wall right against the door.  Here are a few pictures from the process:

Down comes a panel or two.

"Oh, wall paper, thinset and holes?  Just cover those up with some drywall."

That night Derek busted up so much drywall and plaster board that I was sneezing and coughing for freaking hours, but dang, I'm so glad it's down.

On New Years Eve, after Derek got home from work but before we went to our party, we decided it would be fun to start taking off the wood paneling in the den.

Oh look, a random hole into the bathroom.  How quaint.

Taking down the fancy trim.

Surprise!  More peach!

At this point I got involved in the process.  Because, I'm sorry, but demo is fun.  One of the Christmas gifts I got from my inlaws was this amazing piece of demolition amazement.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the FuBar, winner of PopSci's Best of What's New Award and demo allstar.  I loves it.

With FuBar in hand (Derek was gifted the matching hammer) we made quick (and very dirty) work of the wall adjoining the bathroom and the den.

Next time I'll share the story of the Den Floor, aka, The Onion, aka, it had as many layers as and share pictures of what the space looks like now.