Friday, January 12, 2007

Apologies in Advance! Home Renovation Stories and Pictures to Follow!

I'm sorry, I don't want this to turn into one of those home renovation blogs. I'm not sure what the point of my blog is but "Gee How Awful it Is to Try to Renovate an Olde Wreck of House in a Now Trendy Neighborhood" is not the theme I am aiming for. Plus its hard to work in funny OCD stories about asking everyone in your group therapy session to raise their feet so you can precisely straighten the Oriental rug if your blog is limited to home renovation.

I usually lie when I tell people how long I have lived in my house. If I say five years (or less) they naturally sympathize and understand what a challenge it is to renovate a house in such a short period of time. And besides I have been so busy with my full time job at the Big Humanitarian Non-Profit when not reading to inner city children or drinking at the Eagle.

The truth is I have been here over 10 years. Okay, maybe more. Inexcusable. The gray industrial carpet, the (death) spiral staircase to the 3rd floor and the tract lighting all scream "I Heart the 80s." The kitchen is so outdated you expect to see Alice pushing Mrs. Brady's head into the oven at any moment.

I have done some home improvement over the years but it has been limited to painting and the occasional eviction of a boyfriend.

So this year I decided to remodel my 2nd floor bathroom. Okay, I didn't do the work--but thanks to Case Design and Remodeling, Chevy Chase Glass, American Standard, Behr Paint, American Olean Tile, Lowes, Home Depot, Smoots Lumber, Nostalgic Warehouse Hardware, Valium, Skye Vodka, Painter Bear and most importantly, my E*Trade Home Equity Line of Credit, the job is now done.

It was a hassle while the work was being done and at one point I had three toilets (I'm great at buying but bad at returning) and one bathtub stored in my living room not to mention drywall, tile, a sink, several non-English speaking workers and somewhere in all of that, my bewildered pooches Lucy and Lizzie. However I can't say enough good things about the excellent job Case Design did in doing the remodeling. They were very professional and came in close to budget and on time.

The old bathroom was poorly laid out and had some unfortunate features, such as the shower that leaked into the dining room beneath it and the window that had rotted out letting in cold breezes in the winter. Despite the rather large size of the space (for DC) the tub, toilet, and sink were all crowded onto one wall, probably for some turn of the century ablution purposes I don't want to think about. There was also a stand alone shower unit on the opposite wall that blocked the view as you entered the bathroom that you had to squeeze by when entering the room.

I guess if I had the forethought to take "before" pictures this description would make a lot more sense. Oh well, take my word for it, it was a mess. I know me messes. I've been to WOOF a few times.

Choosing the design was not easy. I do not have the "design gene" and I spent hours at Home Expo in Fairfax staring at tile choices. It was rather like being at the DC Eagle on a crowded Saturday night, lots of attractive choices but none that you felt you could take home and live with for any length of time.

As part of my my contract with Case Design I was assigned a designer. Somehow I got assigned the only young straight male University of Georgia grad bathroom designer in DC. It was like having a slacker frat boy visit when we had design meetings. He was very helpful and responsive but at any moment I expected him to pull out the beer bong. "Dude, your sink faucet set has to match your shower faucet." (Who knew???)

We finally punted and decided on a classic black and white bathroom design. The remodeled bathroom retains its original foot print although I believe the space is more wisely used now.

Alas, it will never be featured on the Logan Circle house tour. No Italian marble, the only steam shower occurs if you run the hot water for a long time and there is definitely no chandelier hanging over the non-existent soaking tub containing the frolicking muscle cubs of my dreams. Just a simple retro look--roomy and perhaps somewhat cold. A reflection of my personality, who knows? Or maybe I am just cheap. Oh and definitely no (visible) beer bongs.

The first picture below is the view of the shower/tub unit from the doorway. I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. Between my lack of digital camera skills and the steel gray/blue paint job, the pictures have an odd color cast to them. There may also be some resolution issues but I can't find my glasses tonight.

The sink/dressing area. This is where the stand alone shower once stood. The sink is 36 inches tall, definitely Herb-sized.

The fun thing about working with old houses is you end up with some unusual quirks. Yes I could probably gut my 1900 town house and make it look like a sleek 14th St "loft" with concrete floors with 15 layers of hand applied stain, bamboo counters and titanium cabinets and I would become popular and develop abs and drink at Halo nightly and be featured in Metro Weekly and have people write nice things about me on Craig's List as the ONLY man in town over 40 who can buy his clothes at Abercrombie and Fitch. Blech! Or I could hang myself.

Notice in the picture below the box-like thingy in the ceiling. At one point the sink was in that corner and there was about a foot wide bump out from the wall to conceal the pipes to the third floor master bath. After a little bit of work (thanks Case Design) we reclaimed most of this space except for about a foot of space in the ceiling. So I have a strange box like architectural folly in my ceiling. I love it! Next year at Christmas I am totally going to wrap it.

The bathroom still isn't quite finished. I would like to hang a nice black and white photo on the wall over the toilet. Something like from this guy

It's almost my come on. Someone help a poor guy out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Herb. I think that you did a great job! It's not overdone. I sometimes truly believe that less is more. I am a 27 year old female about to do a major renovation of an old house in DC. My goal is for it to become a rental property. However, the cost and time frames that have been estimated, are more than what I Bargined for. I am getting a little discouraged as I am on a serious budget and would like to get this accomplished. Do you have any suggestions?