Holy crap, we did it!
Fifty three days. Dozens of trips to Home Depot. Gallons of coffee. Thousands of swears. A little bit of blood, and a glassful of tears.
There were days of dark despair when nothing seemed worth it – not the project, not the house, not the blog, none of it. There was misery and sore backs and bruised knees. But there were also little victories and small celebrations. It was an emotional seesaw.
A Turk would have called this project an “Ottoman March.” It’s their way of saying “two steps forward, one step back.” The phrase comes from the old Ottoman Empire attack march. You can see it performed at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul in the video below.
Handan and I will both go on record saying that this was unequivocally the worst project we’ve ever tackled. I don’t believe in curses, but if I did, I’d be sure there was someone in the swamps of Louisiana with a voodoo doll, a photo of our bathroom and assorted hairballs from the old sink. You know Murphy’s Law – it states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. I’m declaring a new one: Greg’s Law. It states that anything that can or can’t go wrong will still go wrong. This project was plagued with problems up to the very last action of installing the new toilet paper holder.
But it’s over.
I promised that when we finished, I would throw a cow on the grill and guzzle a martini, and that is exactly what I did. Behold!
So let’s take a look at how things turned out. This post won’t have many process pictures. Near the end, we were like mindless drones, working on autopilot, just trying to survive the job. Taking pictures was not a priority.
I was planning on highlighting some of the mistakes and failures and accidents first, but I think instead I’m going to jump right into the happy stuff. I’ll sprinkle some lessons learned in with the good stuff.
As level as we tried to get the tile flooring, it wasn’t perfect. When we installed the bottom rail (or baseboard) of the board and batten, there were places with a pretty wide gap between the baseboard and tile. I used caulk to fix the problem. I taped the bottom edge of the baseboard and the floor directly under the baseboard. There would be no overlap of caulk on the baseboard. It would look like a continuation of the baseboard right to the tile floor. Most caulking gives a sloped concave bead. I wanted a straight edge of caulk.
Instead of using a finger or rounded tool to remove the excess caulk, I made a small, thin square of wood and ran it along the caulked edge.
When the tape was peeled away, it looked as though the baseboard was touching the floor along its entire length.
This is a handy technique that I’ve used in the past to fill gaps that wood filler can’t handle.
And, hey, that’s it for the process pictures for this post! Awesome, right? Now we can get to what we all have been waiting for these past two months!
But first, let’s revisit how things were. Here is how the bathroom looked when we moved in.
It had a rich and elegant look, which didn’t exactly fit with our style. What is our style, you ask? Good question. Hmmmm…well, my style might be described as flabby chic. And when Handan is around, there’s a good bit of gabby chic. Let’s call it Flabgab Style.
As was our tendency at the time, we painted those red walls to a dark-ish blue. A couple of years later, Handan painted the mirror frame.
Not a bad bathroom at all. But why leave something perfectly good alone when you can go muck it up for months?
Do you remember why we started this project? Do you recall the catalyst that set everything in motion? I was all set to hang something over the toilet and write a post about it. Then we decided to paint the walls. Then we figured we’d swap the tiles for the ones we found at the dump the year before. Then we agreed that a new toilet would be a grunting success. Then I opened my mouth and set off a series of events culminating in a pocket door. And then we declared that board and batten wainscoting would be just the thing improve our meaningless lives.
It was one hell of a Saturday.
Oh, right, the thing over the toilet! It’s there now. You’re going to finally see the
[name withheld] Anthropologie-inspired hanging storage cabinet!
Let’s take a peek at the whole room. I just got back from the camera store with a new wide angle lens so I could fit the whole room into a single shot. It’s tough to photograph small rooms, but this new lens is awesome! Our room makeovers are really going to shine from now on.
The overall look we wanted was a mix of American coastal and Turkish Mediterranean cottage. The American influence is evident in the board and batten and the vanity light. The Turkish component comes from the window treatment and valance, the potted plants and the candle lamp.
It’s hard to believe it’s the same room.
Creating board and batten wainscoting like this couldn’t be simpler. We went basic for ours, with no 1/4 round moldings and no top rail. We simply used 1 x 6 boards for the bottom rail, 1 x 4 boards for the top rail, and 1 x 3 boards for the vertical stiles. The space between the stiles is just drywall painted with the same color as the stiles.
Handan painted the vanity and re-painted the mirror with pure white paint.
She was having a hard time painting the curved surface of the vanity without leaving brush marks, so she developed a technique to achieve a smooth and level finish. She first painted the surface as she normally would, then she dipped a second brush in water and brushed over the painted area with the watered brush. The water thinned and leveled the paint on the vanity, and she was able to get a perfectly smooth finish. Handan is OCD bonkers when it comes to brush marks, so she was bouncing off the walls with joy after discovering her new method. A little light distressing helped pop the appliques and give relief to the white.
We bought a new vanity light to complement the coastal look we were going for. To me, it evokes a ship’s light or a lighthouse.
I added a dimmer switch, so we could keep things warm and cozy at night.
Since the pocket door took up all of the interior wall space, I had to move the electrical gang boxes out. I built a box from 1/2 inch plywood to house the gang boxes. That sailboat on top is my nod to American nautical style. I love sailboats and ships.
The sink is the same, but we replaced the black stones with blue glass. I love the look.
The window treatment was hand-crocheted in Turkey by Handan’s mother, and is an authentic representation of the Turkish cottage style.
Turks love to have flowers, plants and herbs on their window sills, usually potted in terra cotta.
I built a valance out of 1/2 inch plywood that Handan then painted white. While it looked good as it was, we decided to bring a little more of the cottage style by wrapping the valance with some roll crochet that Handan got at Hobby Lobby.
Handan put an LED lantern on the toilet tank to introduce another color to the room.
And above that lantern hangs the Anthropologie-inspired storage cabinet. Here’s a link to how I made it.
Handan bought a set of two metal houses, the small one shown above that holds a tea light, and a bigger one that holds a pillar candle.
Handan refinished the little table way back in the days before The Navage Patch. She did a beautiful job painting it – not a brush mark to be found!
That book on the bottom is one of my oldest possessions. It is a book of astronomy called The Sidereal Heavens and Other Subjects Connected with Astronomy written by Thomas Dick and published in 1840.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I took a sudden and passionate interest in astronomy. I asked for a telescope and subscriptions to a few of the day’s prominent astronomy publications. In the classified section in the back of an issue of Astronomy Magazine sometime in 1983, I happened upon an advertisement for a couple of old astronomy books, one of them pictured above (the other is lost to time). I was 11 years old, but I remember it well. The books were offered by a man named Ken. I wrote to him and expressed interest. He wrote back indicating that they were still available. I sent him a check for their quoted price and eagerly awaited my prizes.
Great, so why is an ancient astronomy book sitting on the bottom shelf of a table in the guest crapper? Because it looks good in a photograph…duh!
The lamp on the table is one of my favorite things that Handan has ever found for the house (by “found” I mean found online, not at the dump). It holds an LED pillar candle, and it is perfect at night.
And, ahhhhh, my pocket door. My lovely, perfect pocket door. It almost cost me my sanity, you know. But it was so worth it.
And here are the rest of the shots, in no particular order.
We did it! 😀