The title of this essay is self-explanatory: “How am I even married, Volume 617,000.”
When I last left the subject of our upstairs bathroom — aka the “@#$ bathroom” — we were worried about one little field mouse. Those were kinder, gentler times.
Since then, we have learned and grown, and we have basically thrown the entire bathroom out onto the lawn (again). For those following along, this makes renovation No. 4 over two decades.
I am allergic to mold, mildew, dust and possibly air? It’s not entirely clear. What is also not clear is my sinuses if I spend any time at all in our upstairs bathroom recently. I’m kind of the canary in the coal mine of allergen detection. So when I began coughing and hacking whenever I went into the room, we knew we had a problem.
Dedicated to finding the answers, Mr. Wonderful put up an air exchange system and got to work. Out came the vanity, shower walls and eventually the entire tub. The shower and tub were bone dry and clean. The marble top vanity, a mere eight years old, was pried apart only to discover that there was mold inside the MDF that made up the base.
I have long been suspicious of cheap, new things. My concern was valid. The entire vanity was treated as the hazmat issue, and out it went.
During all of this, our cat went down a plumbing chase into the floorboards and got himself good and truly stuck. Of course, he did.
If you have never had to pry a Maine Coon cat out of your floorboards, I don’t recommend it. Cats are great at getting into tight spaces and simply terrible at backing out.
With some careful sawing (what’s one more hole?), one large and very irritated feline was extracted from the floorboards. For the record, Kai gives the entire experience 0/5 stars. He would not recommend it.
All of this, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Once again, we had turned our largest bathroom into a gutted shell of a room.
In the interest of full transparency and old house loyalty, I have something to explain.
Old versus new
When hearing of the little attacks of charm that make up life in a vintage home, there is always someone that uses one of my stories to say that’s why they would never buy an old house. They prefer new construction as it is “trouble-free.” I always just think to myself, “oh honey I know I’m in no position to mock you right now, but, please, knock on wood when you say that.” Presuming you can find any.
I have more trouble with the replacement items in this old house than I do with the original “bones” of the place. On that note, I swore long ago that I would never have cheap plumbing fixtures again! Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me three more times, and I am going to try and learn a little lesson or two.
Accordingly, we tossed the “new” stuff out on the lawn and will be replacing the sink and tub with antique cast iron pieces. I hopped on the internet and let my fingers do the walking. I soon located salvaged fixtures not far from home.
This led to Mr. Wonderful and I driving to a swanky neighborhood to bring a century-old pedestal sink home. This solid cast iron and porcelain beauty is glossy and solid and I adore it already. The clawfoot tub is similar to the ones I grew up with. It has some patina but that’s just extra charm. As for the drywall, I suppose we will replace it. Frankly, I’m ready to just live with plaster and lathe like it’s shiplap.
Imagine my surprise when Mr. Wonderful said the sink might not fit. Excuse me, sir, but how does a sink “not fit?” The room is 12 by 20 feet, and the sink is maybe 48 inches wide. You’ve got this! I believe in you man!
“No,” he says, “the plumbing won’t fit.”
At this, he points to the c. 1990s straight out of Lowe’s pedestal sink in the other bathroom and says “something like that one would fit.”
My response: “But I don’t like that sink.”
“What do you mean?” he countered. You picked it out!”
Thus, I had to explain that yes I did pick this sink out — in 1998. However, there is a lot from 1998 that doesn’t seem appealing any longer. You don’t see me wearing maternity overalls and bangs either.
We have spent endless hours renovating together. We get along for roughly 99% of them. It is that other 1% that leaves me wondering if Chip and JoJo ever just want to close the door and walk away saying: “that room is dead to us now.”
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