Crafts Home

Retro Renovation Realities

7:48 PMDollie DeVille

I wanted to update you all on my status of my current retro renovation. The good news is that we finished painting, finally. Every nook and cranny is covered in mid-century colored goodness, and all of the modern neutrals are out! We did a fantastic “Holiday Turquoise” in the hallway, and the hall closet door we did white with an “Apple Blossom” pink diamond and changed the handle to chrome pull with star back plate from Rejuvenation. We did a slightly more subdued color, “Plymouth Green”, in the bedroom. We also got some amazing gold diamond wall hangings to put beside the bed, but I forgot to photograph them for you.

So, that is about where the good news ends and the reality kicks in. When we moved in to the house, the bathroom was just remodeled in 2008, with new tile, new toilet, and a new vanity. The only thing original was the bathtub. We had initially planned to paint the vanity and walls pink, and install new hardware, towel rack, toilet paper holder, and shower curtain. We had bought all of the stuff, and were prepared to give it a facelift the following weekend. But, before we could do it, my sister through a wrench in our plans. My sister got us a pink 50s toilet and sink as a housewarming gift. Well, at first I was ecstatic. I knew the pink would fit much better into our d├ęcor then the modern white toilet and sink would. Although, it would mean that we have to do a major overhaul of the bathroom that we were not planning for. It was a really loaded gift. We would have to pull out the old vanity, toilet, and flooring. We would have to have a professional install new flooring and get the pink toilet in. We would also have to open up the wall behind the sink to mount a brace to support the weight of the wall-mounted sink, then install the sink. We also had to find a way to take care of the beige stone tile around the tub. We got quotes from pro’s on how much it would cost to re-tile the floor, tub, and a back splash behind the toilet and sink, and it was way out of our price range at the moment. So, as much as we liked the pink toilet and sink, it was a major headache, so we ended up just putting them in storage for a few months.

When we finally found the right person to do the job, at the right price, and the right floor, then we went ahead with it. On January 15th we started demo on the bathroom. We pulled out the old vanity and opened up the wall behind it. That is the exact moment this turns into a horror story. When we opened up the wall we expected to find two studs and some pipes in between. But, in stead we found two studs, another random long board (looking like scrap wood) attached at the very top and very bottom of the right stud, another random chunk of scrap wood screwed into the left stud, and a whole mess of pipes, some functional, and some not. Now this job got interesting. We couldn’t just add the brace in between the two studs because all of these other pieces of wood were in the way. So, a few trips to Home Depot, a few tries, and a few hours later we decided that the only way to make it work is to completely cover the entire area in a huge piece of wood and huge metal brackets. Really, it was the only way. After we finished that we were pleased, and it was very solid. But, when we went to go patch it we realized that the metal brackets over the studs caused the new drywall patch to not lay flush with the old drywall. But, again, there was nothing we could do at that point, so we patched it the best we could and hoped that the sink would cover it.



Then two days later we had the pro’s pull out the old toilet, put in the new Armstrong VCT, and the “new” pink toilet. The floor looks amazing, and we are so happy with it. We chose a black and white fleck, with a pink fleck “+” pattern in the middle of the floor, with a white tile with multi-colored flecks in the dead center. It’s really fun! Everything seamed to go well, until they left. Afterward we noticed that the door wont shut now because the floor was higher then it used to be. You can see how the bathroom door not shutting could be a problem. When we asked they said to use a circular saw to cut ¼ of an inch off of the bottom. We don’t have any sort of saw, so, at the moment we are just living with it.

new floor and new toilet

Then we had to install the wall mounted sink. That went better then we initially thought, until we got to the plumbing. The old sink is 1 ¼ inch pipe, and the drain is 1 ½ inches. After a little google research we found what we needed to solve that problem and we found the right assortment of shapes and sizes to make the new chrome pipes fit together with the PVC drain. We thought we were in the clear until we tested it and the seams were leaking, mostly at the base of the sink where the drain is. That part was attached to the sink, so replacing it was not an option. The only thing we could do was add yucky beige plumber’s putty all over it, and not fill the basin completely with water, or the pressure will build up and cause it to leak again. We were not sure if the sink would leak again, so we had to keep a bucket under it for about a week or so.
Once we had the toilet and sink in the bathroom, we noticed that they didn’t match. Uh oh! Yeah, the seller had two pink bathrooms, one purple-ish pink and one more like a peachy pink. We have the toilet from one bathroom, and the sink and toilet seat from another bathroom. Errrrrrrrr. I don’t know if he knew it at the time, but I know we sure didn’t know. If he did know, then that was a dirty trick. We picked them up at night and it was dimly lit in his garage. When we brought them home we put them straight into the storage shed out back, which has no lighting. By the time we noticed the color difference, they were already installed and it was too late to do anything about it. This was just the cherry on top of an already frustrating bathroom remodel.

Painting doll

After the flooring, toilet, and sink were in we finished up the painting. We painted the walls a vintage pink to match the toilet. Then I made a custom stencil to paint atomic stars around the top of the bathroom. The stencil was also a pain in the butt because it wanted to flair up at the edges, and the spray paint went everywhere. Basically I had to go in and fix everyone by hand. The cheapest quick fix to the tile around the tub was to use a water proof spray paint for tile. The spray paint is white, giving it a clean look. It worked really well and we are happy with it. Then we installed the new towel rack, toilet paper holder, all of our chalkware fish and a metal shelf. It is beautiful and we love it! It was a huge transformation for only a few hundred dollars.

Everything was hunky dory until we noticed the toilet leaking from the base. What a nightmare! When they put in the new floor, it made the closet flange drain lower then the floor level. To combat that issue, the pro’s stacked two wax rings on top of each other to prevent water leaking out of the bottom. It held for a week or so, then water started to flood out of the bottom any time we flushed the toilet. We stuck a towel around it until we could find a solution. Everyone we talked to said that two wax rings were the solution to this problem, but obviously that didn’t work. So, Zack pulled up the toilet again and added some sort of flange riser and a 40% larger wax ring. We thought that would work, but it only made the problem worse. Then he pulled up the toilet again and added a larger flange extender and larger wax ring, and that worked like a charm. No more leaking! Yay!

So, there it is……our very long retro renovation reality! It is not as easy as the TV shows make it out to be, at least not when you are doing it by yourself on a budget!

I want to show you the finished product, but you will have to wait until my "Virtual Housewarming Party" this are all invited!


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  1. Your house must be vary charming!!

  2. how fun. the tiling looks pretty neat.
    I can't wait to see what everything else looks like! =)

  3. Go for Laminate wood flooring to make give your home retro as well as trendy look.

  4. You can never go wrong with pink, never! Very cute and charming! :-)

  5. Can't wait to see the finished product!!!


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