Teapot’s on cups are waiting, favorite chairs anticipating. No matter what I have to do, my friend there’s always time for you.
I am so excited to share a new storyline with you! All this fall (and possibly, but hopefully not into the winter) I will be posting lots of pictures and information about some desperately-needed restorations/renovations of our 2 bathrooms and kitchen floor!
I have been praying a lot for a way to make these projects happen and thankfully money is going to be available to finally take care of them. God is good!
First a history of our bathrooms and kitchen:
When our house was built in 1907 it had advanced plumbing, electric and gas for the Midwest at the time. There were two bathrooms, a kitchen and a butlers pantry, running water, and a cistern to provide water for washing clothes. There were servants buzzers (some are still in the floors) a telephone, gas and electric light fixtures, and there was even a toilet in the quarters above the carriage house. (We don’t know if this was for a groomsman or a maid-in all probability it was probably both over the years. Servants to the house usually lived in the house.) Remarkably, the same family lived here generationally from 1907-2006.
In 1966 the first, second, and third generation of the family that built our house all came to live together. The son, his wife and children moved in the big house to help look after his mother who had had a fall. He was a civil engineer and we are so thankful to him for many of the updates and projects he completed to make this property so nice. When they moved in changes had to be made for a large family to live in the house once again.
In 1966 their huge renovation modernized and updated the then 60-year-old house. Part of that project included upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as new electric and parts of the house gutted for this electric work.
The house had to work for a new generation that didn’t have servants and who increasingly relied on electrical servants such as washing machines and ranges to help them run a house, just like today.
Let’s start with the first floor bathroom. It used to be a W.C. (water closet) with a toilet and sink. That took up less than half of the current space. The rest of the current space was the servants’ stairs which went behind the toilet room and came out into the kitchen. In 1966 the hard decision was made to take out the servants stairs and use the extra space to make a handicapped accessible bathroom downstairs for the grandmother.
The original family sold it to a professor friend of ours and I am also thankful for her hard work in helping this old white elephant along. Unfortunately some of the work wasn’t very high quality.
The tile job for both bathrooms was done with the wrong kind of tile and the jobs were amateurishly done. I’m sick of keeping grout that got slopped on the side of the bathtub clean and our water leak from last weekend was due in part to grout that wasn’t done properly. The biggest reason we are going to rip out these tiles is safety. I can live with ugly and inconvenient a long time, but not unsafe stuff. The tiles are slicker than oil when wet and you can’t tell they are wet half the time. We have all slipped on them and some of us have fallen.
I fell at 20 years old, slipping on black ice when I was running with our dog, and broke my knee. It took two years, two surgeries, and 6 months on crutches (non-weight bearing) to heal. Also the loss of income was devastating to us as we were newlyweds and in school, so we were poor already. So I do not want to risk a repeat for anyone in our bathrooms!
And so we move on to problem number 2. That gross picture was the shower floor in that downstairs bath. This is the main bath because there wasn’t really a shower upstairs. I could not get the grout clean in the floor of this shower, because it had cracked, the concrete pan had cracked from foundation shifts, and mold was growing under it. Gag.
My darling husband ripped it out, patched the pan and retiled it. But we still have a ticking time bomb with the pan not being very stable. Then a year later we noticed grout had started falling out in between the tiles on the walls, so after more patching, we decided a complete redo was in order.
Bathing is also an issue because our upstairs bathtub from a 1966 renovation is pitted on the bottom and the shower is jury-rigged. (But y’all know that’s how we do it here because you have to get really inventive when your money is tied up with fixing other stuff.) I can’t keep it clean either. My dream is to once again be able to bathe in a claw foot bathtub, so we will be replacing it.
Then, there is our poor kitchen! Everything is good except the floor! Yuck! The flooring is roll vinyl, stamped to resemble alligator skin. I know. I know. But please forgive the previous owner. I’m pretty sure she installed it based on availability of a roll of BROWN cheap flooring so it would match the wood floors in the rest of the house. It has given us years of laughs, and like most roll vinyl started to go downhill after 5 years (that would be the second year we lived here). We’ve patched it when we moved cabinets to fit our vintage O’Keefe & Merritt range. It curls at all corners, edges, and seams, and has broken places on seams that recieve normal traffic. We have tried everything to make it last as long as possible. I even hot glued it back down!
We plan to get Marmoleum. It has a lifespan of 30+ years and it’s affordable, historically correct, has a great track record, and is one of the most earth friendly options. I love it also because it’s easy on the feet, warm in winter, and if you drop something it won’t break like it will on tile.