What I Learned When We Renovated Our Bathroom

Once we decided not to move and to stay in our house we started making renovation plans. We knew that our biggest undertaking was also the one about which I would be the most excited, and it was time. I was more than ready to say goodbye to that purple sink and dingy shower! We were ready to reno our bathroom.

This was a serious renovation. A down to the studs, reconfigure the room, change everything project. I wanted a can’t stop smiling, “I can’t believe this is my bathroom” kind of bathroom. It was both daunting and exciting. So with a lot of planning, and even more hard work, we were able to turn this …

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Into this ….

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I’m in love.

While we certainly made some mistakes, there was a lot we learned along the way. So once you recover from the overwhelming desire to soak in that clawfoot tub, here are a few tips for anyone thinking of taking the plunge.

Know When to Use a Professional

Did you know some kinds of tiles cannot support the weight of a clawfoot tub? I didn’t either. Luckily my architect friend knew! While we wanted to do as much on our own as possible, we also knew that sometimes we couldn’t do the job. So we spoke with more than one contractor, a plumber, and an electrician before we started. That way we knew when we would need permits, what plans were unrealistic, and which parts of the project were best left to someone with more experience and knowledge. Mistakes are going to happen, but the best way to minimize how costly they are is to consult a professional.

Let the Fun Parts Be Fun

There are major stress factors when you are doing a renovation. From cost to dust to noise to inconvenience, a lot happens out of your control. But some of it is super fun. We had a blast with the demo. Picking out tile and a vanity? Yes please! I relished the hours I spent putting finishing touches in the room. Choosing pictures, shelving and design touches to make it personal took this project to another level. Embrace those moments because the rest is HARD. Speaking of which …

Be Patient and Mindful

I admit to getting very frustrated with my husband when we spent over four hours choosing the right fixtures for the tub. From pipe size to faucet width there was a lot to learn. It was definitely not a “point and click” decision! Similarly choosing the tile, a part I loved, was just the tip of the iceberg. We had to choose the right leveling, agree on grout color and choose a spacing method. We spent an hour just looking at toilets (I still think they are all the same). Installing drywall is something like a five-day process. There are steps involved that I didn’t want to care about. The closer you get to the end of the project, the more you will chomp at the bit to finish. But a rushed job may not have the same quality, so patience is key.

Expect the Entire House to Be Affected

I had this lovely vision of closing the door to the bathroom while it was in work to minimize the mess. But we didn’t have a door. So, despite our best efforts, dust went everywhere. For about two weeks the entire house smelled like attic until we had the ceiling in place. We shared our kids’ bathroom and had a major toothbrush mixup.

Say Goodbye to Free Time

In the beginning, it was a weekends only project. Then our weekends filled up, and we wanted our bathroom. So every spare hour we could find was spent in that room. Our entire family had a job. I textured the walls and the kids helped paint and tile.

Stick To Your Plan

If I were playing a video game, I would click on the window in Design Mode and shift it away from the corner. I might try the bathtub on different walls, or even expand the space a bit. But the reality is we could only do so much with the space we had. So once we had a vision and made our plan, the best path was to stick to it. Minor changes could happen along the way but ultimately we had to keep time and money under control.

There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh if you decide to reno yourself. I’m glad for the experience and, in the end, I have a major sense of satisfaction and a bathroom I love. For us, the hard work paid off. On to the next room!

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Jen is an author and a member of the events coordinator team for New Orleans Mom. She divides her attention between books, friends, family, and Mardi Gras. When she’s not working, Jen enjoys being active and adventurous. She can be found walking at the park, taking yoga classes, and swinging Kettlebells around the city. She loves chats at coffee shops with a good friend and insists on having a family fun day at home once a week. Those days are for couch time, completing puzzles, or playing video games with her two kids, husband, and a variety of furry critters... plus the occasional frog.

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