3 Reasons We Rebuilt Our Master Bathroom

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Brian and I have a FULLY FUNCTIONING master bathroom! Our project began on July 10th, 2021 with an energizing (and exhausting) day of demolition. With just over four months in, we have accumulated a solid amount of knowledge, bruises, and tools. Today, we can actually take a step back to appreciate our nearly-finished bathroom and acknowledge our hard work. We feel accomplished. It’s crazy to think about where and how we started; the why, however, was determined and unavoidable.

3 Reasons for Our Why

We never liked our master bathroom! I try to live by the mantra:

If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

Mary Engelbreit

Adapted from Maya Angelou’s words, this quote helps me retrain my focus for a clearer perspective. Truthfully, Brian and I had originally decided to hold off on renovating our master bathroom until our tenant moved out. With only two showers in the house, it was not ideal to have one out of commission JUST BECAUSE. We always knew we wanted to tackle the bathroom rebuild ourselves, but thought it was best to research and wait for a more opportune time. In the end, we were put into a ‘leaky’ situation that pushed us to rebuild sooner rather than later.

1. The Smell

Before we bought the house, I knew something was amiss in the ‘newly renovated‘ master bathroom. A damp smell lingered through our initial walkthrough, inspection, and eventual ownership and use. Despite noting a small crinkle in the ceiling paint, our inspector dismissed my concern and remarked that the owners must not be turning on their fan during showers.

I know better. In any case, we moved forward with the purchase knowing that we were going to tear out the bathroom anyway. It simply wasn’t our style. We figured we would most definitely discover the source of that smell once we tore everything out!

In the meantime, we tried a handful of mitigations….

  • Placed DampRid Moisture Absorbers around the bathroom
  • Kept the fan running during and after showers
  • Installed a dehumidifier
  • Removed the terribly installed shower door and replaced with a curtain to keep water INSIDE the shower
  • Took cool-to-cold showers at times to avoid creating more steam
  • Kept the door closed at night (the bathroom door is in front of my side of the bed; I was so sensitive to the musty smell that it used to wake me up!)

These Band-Aids helped as well as they could, but that’s exactly what they were – Band-Aids! Imagine the humorous blend of annoyance and expectation we faced as the crinkle in the ceiling paint grew to a small peel that led way to a sagging paint job.

So, what happened? It appears that moisture was just hanging out between the paint and drywall. Whoever painted this ceiling forgot the primer. Oy! We peeled, scraped, sanded, primed, and painted to our hearts’ content. This happened in June 2020. Who knew that almost a year later, we would have to cut into that ceiling?!

2. The Challenge

After we discovered the leak in our shower, it took us about a day to decide that we were all in for our bathroom rebuild. It was a very scary decision, but also a motivating and thrilling one. Brian and I did not know the first thing about cutting tile or building a shower, but we knew that we wanted to learn.

I’m all for a healthy challenge, and this was no exception. Not only did we challenge ourselves to design, construct, and source, we also opted to eliminate any material and product made in China. Brian and I strongly believe in voting with our dollars. Let me tell you…it has taken many hours to track down all kinds of material – from mirrors, to hardware, to fixtures, and more.

We have learned so much from this project. There were times that we struggled, as we were stretched way too thin between work life and bathroom adventures. Even with a few all-nighters, though, our energy was up and focused on the end goal. We LOVE a good challenge.

3. The Accomplishment

People view accomplishments differently. For me, no amount of money will ever measure up to the feeling of being accomplished by my own two hands and my little brain. Brian and I paid for tiling once at the townhouse; it took that ONE time for us to realize that people will never care for your project and property the way that you do. It was a joke of an experience, but luckily the legal soul in me kept meticulous records and managed to negotiate over a 70% discount of the original quote.

From that point forward, Brian and I have decided to spend more time learning things on our own. Self-sufficiency is not as expected nor taught as it once was; American society has drifted into an era of casual dependency. Through professional and personal capacities, Brian and I have both spoken with others about their home renovations and maintenance routines. Nearly 90% of those we speak to regularly hire out for their projects. Sometimes, they get what they pay for. Unfortunately, more often than not (and especially now with the effects of the pandemic), many are experiencing shoddy craftsmanship, massive delays, and incomplete work. This is excluding those that have been ripped off entirely!

We took on our bathroom rebuild so we could educate ourselves. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it. For us, there was no other way and we knew we could get to the other side. It’s almost an indescribable feeling once you step back and realize you built something with your own two hands. Brian and I are kind of amazed at what we have accomplished during our master bathroom rebuild.

With Gratitude & Support

The only thing left to do in our bathroom is to build out our linen closet shelves – that’s it! Brian and I would not be nearing the finish line, much less beginning our project, without the experiences we’ve shared and support we’ve received.

I am grateful for our terrible time with the crew tiling in our townhouse.

I am grateful for Brian willing to take a chance on traversing through unfamiliar territory.

I am grateful for the support of each other, our friends, and our family.

I am particularly grateful for dad’s knowledge and encouragement.

With sleepless nights on our side, memories made, and a whole range of different skills explored…we are wrapping up this project and will soon be moving onto the next challenge.

Check in with us next week to read more of our Master Bath Rebuild series!

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