Bathtubs, Tile, Leaks, and Ancient Toilets

Maddy Cat and Abbey on the window seat by the stairs.

Our renovations have officially started. Nothing makes me more anxious than renos. Especially inside ones. Outside and you can still get on with your life, inside and, well… it is your life. I am more or less, the acting general contractor on the projects, but I am blessed to be working with talented craftsmen so it should be ok. I spent spring break in the city researching tile, taking my kids to the zoo with my best friend, measuring bathrooms, ordering materials, and dealing with another leak.

DH on his way to the leak by those holly bushes.


A LOT of tile came in last week. So much that I was worried about the foundation posts! We spread it out over the dining room which happens to have two newer posts under its floor. There are 32 boxes of subway tile (3,200 tiles!), 14 boxes of floor tile, and many boxes of trim tile.

All tile is from American Olean at Lowe’s. Clockwise from top: Sample showing chair rail  with subway tile and base tile, glass pulls for the drawers (now made by Brainard), a ceramic coaster for the claw feet of the tub so they don’t scratch the tiles or break them, the floor tile in a 1″ hex and glass knobs for the cabinets. White is not always white, so we ordered from the same company in the same color.

Picking most of the tile was easy. Thanks to lots of research on the front end of the project and the book “Bungalow Bathrooms” we knew what to get. It’s very vanilla, but that will keep costs down, eliminate remorse, work for our family, and be in style with the age of our house.


I did go off on a huge tangent with the baseboard trim tiles. I wanted these gorgeous things because I really wanted the base to stand out. I could not see how a tile with the same depth as the others would. So I tried to get these (I liked the top and bottom one). Until I found out they were $18.00 a tile (that’s contractor price!) and we needed 72 of them for both bathrooms!


They weren’t nearly as expensive as the Pratt & Larson tile which is possibly the most gorgeous old-house tile I have ever seen. But it’s definitely not for the faint of budget! Their baseboard tile was $32 a tile with a 4 week wait for production!

So, I dove back into the book and looked very closely at the bottoms of a lot of walls and I figured out (and my DH helped a lot!) that they laid those cheaper tiles over the middle or field tiles to make them stick out more on the bottom of the wall and give them some depth. DH called the contractor and he confirmed he could easily do this and we saved thousands of dollars, but kept the cool look!

Soon a semi-truck will be here to deliver our new bathtub for the 2nd floor bath. I wanted the biggest claw foot bathtub I could find. Unfortunately, there has been a history of foundation issues on the side of the house where that bathroom is and we were not comfortable putting a 400 lb tub up there then filling it with 400 lbs of water. So we opted for a high-end acrylic claw foot tub weighing only 100 lbs. I got it on sale and free shipping too! Vintage Tub & Bath has great customer service so far! I’ll let you know how it turns out. We got this beauty (but with no faucet drillings):

Imperial 66″ acrylic claw foot tub from Restoria Bath via Vintage Tub & Bath

We still have to buy the CVT tile for the kitchen. We couldn’t afford the linoleum tile. It was $5 a square foot and our kitchen is really big, so we went with the normal stuff at 97 cents a square foot. I’m hoping it will look really cool. We are doing a diagonal checkerboard with big 2 foot x 2 foor squares in a soft green and a soft blue. I want the kitchen to be very ocean-y inspired. Our cabinets, trim, and appliances are all white, but I’ve tried to infuse color into it!

We also found a great cookware stand for our Le Creuset pieces. At $55 it was a steal compared to the Enclume ones sold at Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table that can be $400! I came home from work the other day and my DH had it all put together for me! Yay! Its very sturdy and holds everything! I’ll show you soon!

We had to figure out a new toilet for the upstairs bath. I really wanted a high-tank one (they are so fun to flush), but they are expensive. Then, I remembered we had a really old toilet in the carriage house. Yeah….. it’s going to take some work, but our plumber seems excited about restoring it! And it will be cheaper than the new, higher toilet we needed. When done it should look like this only better:

It’s not even close to this right now. Lol

In the middle of all of this we happened to notice a very weird wet puddle by the holly bushes on the side of the front porch. We thought it was our water line leaking and prepared to borrow even more money to fix this old house. Sigh. Then, we did a little exploratory dig with the plumber and found that it was an old faucet, buried about 4″ underground in the flower bed! It was leaking. DH capped it. Done! He saved us even more money! (No, I do not know why this faucet was buried.)

Ugh. At least we figured this out. The historic leaks in this place are out of hand! :0

After all that math last week and ordering and drama over ship dates and what kind of tub to get, I will be glad to get this started, even if it is crazy. On the flip side, it is pretty exciting to see things go back to the way they would be, only new and safe and done right this time. I’m so ready for these changes and I know it will be very disruptive, but it will be worth it!





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