The Buehler Buzz

{watch dumb and dumber do up their dwelling}

The End of an Era

Otherwise known as Before & Afters of a bathroom

Geez Looeez I am still getting excited every time I have the opportunity to spend quality time in our new bathroom.  Which may or may not have resulted in a diet of increased roughage and fiber.  But that’s another topic…

You know how sometimes people are all like, “Yeah, that bathroom is pretty nice and you CLEARLY have amazing taste, but it’s not like you didn’t have a nice bathroom to start with”.  To which I’m all like, “Were you FUCKING BLIND?!  That previous excuse for a bathroom was filled with RAT SHIT when we moved in and while I may have bleached it so often that I have chemically burned off my fingerprints it was still DISGUSTING!”

You know, because I’m pretty calm and reserved about my opinions.

So now we’re going to check out some befores and afters.  So you can see it, real up close.  And nasty.

Case study one: The Tub
This beauty was a beyootiful gray-blue (honestly, the color was not that bad) and had a plastic liner surround that was cracked and leaking.  It also came with a horrifyingly stained glass sliding-door that was screwed into the drywall.  Meaning that when we removed the sliding-door, we were left with holes in the wall.  Which is totally not a big deal unless you want to, you know, actually take a shower in there.  SWEET.

We replaced the tub (super deep), all the plumbing, the joists holding up the floor (which were not only cut ¾ of the way through but also rotted to the point that our contractor said if we hadn’t replaced them we might have truly ended up recreating the fall-through-the-floor bathtub scene in The Money Pit), added a ventilation fan and lighting, and tiled up the whole wall.  And don’t forget my nooks… I love nooks.  (See the soap one?  He’s the little guy on the left just above the tub.)

The tub before and after:Bathrooms1

Damn, Gina!  And in case that picture is confusing, the before picture is facing the toilet – that wall actually came down and we moved the plumbing to the opposite end.  The after picture has the toilet behind/to the right.

Case study two: The Toilet
We started with a toilet that matched the tub.  Yes, it WAS inset back into the wall for some reason.  Yes, the previous owner thought it was pretty to leave a weird laminate wood framing around the toilet tank.  And I know you didn’t forget the actual awesomeness of the toilet bowl itself and how we had to accommodate that swoop.  The walls were a light blue (you can’t really tell from pictures) and the baseboards were the same laminate as the floor and trim around the toilet.

We performed minor upgrade surgery (this means I painted) last year sometime… maybe summer?  Baseboards and baseboard heater were painted white and the walls and toilet trim were painted the same gray we have in the rest of the our first floor (Ice Formations, BM).

The toilet before and after:toilet collage

BOOYAH!  (Yes, still love it and still using it.  A and I are also bringing back WASSUUUUP, if you want to join our party.)  New Toto toilet (check me out, I’m name dropping toilets), actual baseboards, and new baseboard heater covers.  The walls stayed Ice Formations.  The biggest change is the feel over there since the wall is gone.  Makes it extra fun to walk into the bathroom while somebody is doing their business, I can assure you… because they can’t hide behind the wall.  And we like to know what’s going on in our house AT ALL TIMES.

Case study three: The Vanity
Wanna know the theme here?  The sink matched the vanity matched the toilet matched the tub.  (And before I hear any of you people grumbling about how I should have preserved what we had, if there hadn’t been major problems with all of them I probably would have, excluding the vanity.  I’m into retro, but not when it’s rusting completely through, leaking unstoppably, or so wobbly that I can’t pee in peace.)  While that L-shaped vanity sure does LOOK like a good idea, it really just enclosed the area; that small L portion was practically useless, being about 7 inches deep.  Also, the entire thing was handmade.  I think by whittling.  Because the insides were CRAZY.  All of the drawers were different sizes, yes that is paneling on the entire vanity, and that lower countertop on the left side under the window?  That was just painted splintery plywood held up by propped 2×4’s under the sink.  Really.

During part of the weekend painting party I had last summer, I painted out the vanity white, added new knobs, painted the walls, and glued an empty frame onto the wall-length mirror.  We also removed that crazy towel bar and put a couple of hooks in its place for hand towels.  Not a bad redo for about $6 in hooks and $25 in knobs.

The vanity before and after:Bathrooms vanity collage

Just look at this new vanity!  This is a vintage dresser we bought from Craigslist.  I just added a little oil and wax after cleaning (Howard’s Restor-A-Finish and Feed-N-Wax), then beefed up the existing hardware with some color (Antique Gold Rub ‘N Buff – it’s like a pigmented wax).  We only lost about ½ of each top drawer on either side (for sink plumbing).  Those sinks are Ikea and the faucets are Grohe (and match our tub hardware).  Top it with some carrara marble and an extra tall backsplash and we’re in business!

I truly truly love it.

And that’s a wrap.  I’m off to hang out in that tub after enjoying the toilet and probably both sinks.  Because washing your hands in just one sink is for chumps.

Ta ta,

Wait until you see this!

Alternate title: Bathroom Gut Part Five and check out this living room floor!

First of all, our cherubic faces have gone back to horribly, dry, scaly, winter messes with the unfortunate but necessary loss of our steam toilet.  It sure was sweet while it lasted…

And after almost seven months, we are officially calling this bathroom 99% finished!  What’s left?

  1. Purchasing and having glass installed for the tub surround
  2. Installing some sort of static window cover (think stationary roman shade)
  3. Finish painting the door trim and edges
  4. Removing window film on door

And that, my internet friends, is ALL.  Seriously!  Only 4 little tasks to go!

I’m sort of in shock.  This dress bathroom exacerbates the genetic betrayal design awesomeness that is my legacy – check it out:

{overall vanity view}

{overall vanity view}

{vintage dresser found on Craigslist - we cleaned up the pulls, spruced up the wood, added a couple of Ikea sinks and some carrera marble and shazam!}

{vintage dresser found on Craigslist – we cleaned up the pulls, spruced up the wood, added a couple of Ikea sinks and some carrera marble and shazam!}

{mirrors from World Market, changed from pewter to gold}

{mirrors from World Market, changed from pewter to gold}

{another shot of sink area... because I'm in love}

{another shot of sink area… because I’m in love}

{yes, glasses as art, because do YOU have a pair of family heirloom specs that made it through the revolutionary war?  I do!}

{yes, glasses as art, because do YOU have a pair of family heirloom specs that made it through the revolutionary war? I do!}

{the tub, waiting patiently for his glass surround}

{the tub, waiting patiently for his glass surround}

{no longer steaming, still just as marvelous}

{no longer steaming, still just as marvelous.  and black penny tile, I really love you.}

{lion art, because lions are cool}

{lion art, because lions are cool}

{this is a baseboard heater cover.  seriously.  awesome.}

{this is a baseboard heater cover. seriously. awesome.}

{towel nook, behind the door.  the top row MAY be almost too high for me to reach, but I make it on tiptoes.  I'm tall... not.}

{towel nook, behind the door. the top row MAY be almost too high for me to reach, but I make it on tiptoes. I’m tall… not.}

{color is soot, bm.  delightfully navy/black/charcoal all in one.}

{color is soot, bm. delightfully navy/black/charcoal all in one.}

{my favorite - black penny tiles with black grout}

{my favorite – black penny tiles with black grout}

I’m so in love with this bathroom that I almost made my sister sleep in here when she visited me last weekend.  I’m not kidding – it was a viable option I gave her.

Now to move on to the living room.  Remember the allusions to a “special” contractor discovered through the powers of Craigslist?  Here’s the story in a not-so-small-and-you’ll-probably-be-bored-by-the-end-nutshell.

We (Buehler here, the Liz Buehler, mate to Aaron, who’s with me on this) like hiring independent workers and/or working with small businesses as much as possible.  There are so many talented people out there with exceptional skills, and when you find them and are able to work with them their dedication and personal investment in your projects are so much deeper than when utilizing a “bigger” contractor or business.  Also, let’s get real, their prices are usually way lower, so… bonus.

That’s when you find the good ones, that is.  The bad ones can be bad.  Real bad.  Like a hot mayonnaise sandwich served with 3-week old salmon sushi and a side of curdled warm milk.  {Or in my case, shrimp served over celery with a side of cooked mushroom caps and beets.}  In a word – HORRIFYING.  And of course I know this from experience, because we went a smart route and found an independent concrete guy to stain our living room floor on Craigslist.  We’ll call this guy Frank… because his name was Frank.

Now Frank seemed cool – he came over, we liked him, he’s a nice guy, working for “the man”, wants to go solo this year, has a kid; you know – likable.  And talked a good game… to two mildly retarded homeowners who really don’t know anything about staining concrete floors.

Did he have pictures to show us?  No.
Did he have references?  Nope.
Could we see anything he did?  Sure – a restaurant from about 8 years ago.

Did we miss all of the signs?  YES.  {Hey, you gotta accept responsibility for certain situations, right?  Yes.}  But he was NICE; we liked him.  He gave a good vibe.  And… we may have had blinders on because the price was cheap.  Just throwing it out there.

He quotes us a weekend job – as in, start to finish Friday through Sunday.  We’re in, because yes the bathroom has taken out the entire back wing and yes the rest of the first floor is in chaos with the laying of the new hardwoods, but who cares about also tearing apart the living room at the same time if it’s only going to be for three days?!  Right?!

FIVE WEEKS LATER the living room was still useless.  As was the rest of the first floor and the basement.  To the point that we were taking meals upstairs and eating in our bedroom.

In five weeks, he managed to fill some gaps that needed filling, skim-coat the entire living room floor, stain the floor, stain the Lannon stone walls, get stain all over our outside patios, fail to seal the stain (so that it was continually seeping up and onto whatever was put on top of it)… and then DO IT ALL AGAIN IN AN EFFORT TO FIX IT.

I can honestly say that those weeks were the very worst of any part of any house stuff we’ve tackled since applying for our mortgage to buy our house 3 years ago.  For real.  No kitchen, no dining room, no bathroom, no office, down two guest rooms, no basement and no hang out space in the whole house besides your bedroom?   That’s not fun for five weeks.  Not to be dramatic, but there were certain days towards the end when I may have been one bad thought away from stabbing Aaron to death with the nail gun.  {Because you take it out on your mate, no matter how awesome he actually is.  And he’s my love dove… NOW.}

But a family friend who’s been in the business years and years came to the rescue!  {Oh, why didn’t we call him in the first place?  Because we’re sometimes very very very very dumb.}  These folks were PROFESSIONAL and awesome:  Bildor Concrete Corporation

As it turns out, things get fixed quickly when you hire a true expert and fork over more money.  Who knew?!

And you know what?  We got the fabulous floors in the end – look:

{hi Aaron! hi Lex!}

{hi Aaron! hi Lex!}

{love love love love those Wassily (ahem, knockoff, ahem) chairs and the red rug against these floors}

{love love love love those Wassily (ahem, knockoff, ahem) chairs and the red rug against these floors}


Ah… how nice are those?  They’re freaking nice.  I may pet them sometimes while expressing my deep love for them, just putting it out there.

So all is well these days, the bathroom and the living room are looking unbelievable, and I have tons more updates to share regarding furniture and flooring.  Until then, remember to stay away from dudes named Frank on CL who pretend to be concrete stainers.


5 months later…

And we once again have a toilet on the main floor!

Added bonus: it’s a steam toilet. Because we crossed the hot & cold lines. Because we’re smart. And we like to give ourselves facials while defecating.

Stay jealous,

Bathroom gut (part four)

Alternate title: Extreme Psychosis Exemplified Coupled with Bathroom Gut Part Four (ty-five, because it feels like it’s been going on that long, doesn’t it?)

Where were we?  Oh yes – laying hardwood floor, continuing bathroom renovations, and staining concrete floors.

First up, the bathroom is now looking especially close to finished – lookit:

{What?  That just looks like a papered-over wall?  Why yes, that’s because it IS a papered-over wall… marble wall.  You think I’m going to eff up my awesomely awesome totally radical marble while this spaz (myself) attempts to prime & paint a ceiling with my bad 5’2” self?  You’re just going to have to wait for final after pictures… or more likely in progress pictures, let’s get real.}

The serious good news is that we now just need some paint, a countertop, toilet, sink, pendant lighting, baseboard and trim installations and we’re calling this five month project donezo!

Next in our lineup, the hardwood floors, which are coming along, but honestly are nowhere near  completion.  We’ve managed to finish the foyer, hallway in front of the stairs, and hallway by the stereo.  See? (And yeah, you’re going to have to look PAST all of the shit your eyes want to focus on to see those gleaming beauties that are underneath the current extreme mess.)


Slow, but gorgeous, no?  We’re not going slow just because I keep having to take days off due to accidental alcoholic beverage poisoning that I may regularly give myself.  It’s the good ole snowball effect that has us creeping along this time.

Are you not familiar with how small items on your list, such as “lay hardwood floors in kitchen and dining room” gradually expand to “rip out pantry and desk, so we can put the floors under them like Mike Holmes told us to, then move the fridge so we can use the back door again” and then further explode to “we might as well expand these two doorways, rip out unneeded soffits, add actual overhead lighting to replace these fluorescent lights and make this wall a pony wall”?  Um, it goes exactly like I just wrote it, and looks a little like this:


Because these Buehlers love nothing more than taking a not-so-easy task and making it harder.

I know it probably doesn’t look like a huge opening to you guys, but we’re widening them by at least 6-10 inches, so they feel HUGE to us.  And those wider doorways are going to allow me to carry my plate of food AND bottle of wine into the living room without turning sideways to fit through my doorway.  YES.

PS: I’m still getting to the concrete floors… but what’s the fun in writing about a mongoloid contractor, burning acid and attempting to teach somebody the difference between “industrial look” and “boot prints” if there isn’t even a resolution to clear it all up at the end of the story?   NO FUN.  Stay tuned.

A small break from the bathroom gut

Alternate title: Extreme Psychosis Coupled with Bathroom Gut Part Three

So you know those mornings on days when you’re refilling your coffee because you’ve decided to work from home that day, and your mate is laying marvelous hardwood floors while your contractor is laying gorgeous tile, and you and said mate turn a three second chat about widening the doorway openings into the kitchen into crowbar action that involves ripping down drywall from said doorways, and then you do  a happy dance when you discover that half of the wall you want to remove is not structural, confirming your dreams of the past six months?

I mean, we’ve all been there, right?  Aren’t those days AWESOME?

Okay, yes, back up and explain… all has been quiet over here because we’re still slow going on the bathroom remodel.  No fault of anybody – our contractor is actually our buddy who has a full-time job and a family.  And we’re in no rush, so we’re meandering through this renovation at what sometimes feels like a glacial pace… but then I check out the room and see the complete magnificence and attention to detail that’s happening in there and I don’t care if it takes another six months to finish it all.  Seriously.  I have amazing taste, people, and this bathroom is going to look GOOD.

Need proof?  Check out this marble:

And since we’re smart (and by “smart”, I mean “stoopid”) we decided that NOW was the time to finally buy and lay those new hardwood floors!  {You all remember that we’ve been living with subfloors for at least a year and a half, since it was discovered that the house was killing me not-so-softly and the predominant predator was the white carpet that covered the entirety of the first floor?  You know, what used to look like this:

Turned into this:


These new floors are completely amazing and beautiful and magnificent and magical and are TAKING FOREVER TO LAY HOLY SHIT WE MIGHT BE 52 BY THE TIME WE’RE DONE.  As our motto has become “Let’s do this the right way, not the drunken-fool-handyman-special way that it was done before”, we’re not only laying and nailing our tongue-and-groove floors, we decided to glue them down, too.  We also took the time to screw down the old floor with a ridiculously large number of screws to help eliminate squeaking, AND had to level the 2-inch dip in the concrete pad that acts as half our dining room subfloor.

Days 1-3: Prework.  Screwing, sanding, concrete-leveling, measuring and ripping up all of that disgusting foyer entryway tile.
Day 4, 5 hours: 1 row of flooring laid.

{Here’s how a row of flooring gets laid, by the way – boards are “racked” (laid out in pattern you want, making sure none of seams are lined up right next to the previous rows’ seams), pick up first board, glue floor where board will be placed, seet board in place, smash board with mallet multiple times to make sure it’s tight next to the previous row and board in front of it, point out to Aaron that you can still see lots of gaps, smash board many more times to close gaps, nail in the board using the ear-deafening pneumatic floor nailer, wait for Liz to inspect the finished product, move onto the next board in the row and continue until you hit the board that’s going to run into the wall, whence you must first find a board that’s long enough to hit the wall, but not too long so that you don’t cut off too much as scrap and waste a perfectly good board in the process, measure how long the board should be, take it outside to the table saw, trim the board, glue floor where board will be placed, seet board in place, smash board with mallet multiple times to make sure it’s tight next to the previous row and board in front of it, point out to Aaron that you can still see lots of gaps, smash board many more times to close gaps, nail in the board using the ear-deafening pneumatic floor nailer, wait for Liz to inspect the finished product and REPEAT ONE MILLION TIMES.}

Day 5, 11 hours: 10 rows of flooring laid
Day 6, 4 hours: 8 rows of flooring laid.
And so on…

All of the above means we’re about 3 weeks into floor laying and have accomplished our foyer and the hallway in front of the living room.  Yes.  That is all.  We haven’t even STARTED the dining room or kitchen yet.

Check it out though – they are the most amazing floors I’ve ever laid.

What does all of this mean?  That  since this is clearly going to occupy us until Easter, it was time to start finishing the concrete floor of the living room!  But that’s a story for another day…


{PS: Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the wall-removal I alluded to in the first section.  All in good time, my pretty.  There’s a method to the madness.}


{PPS: That method starts with mart, ends with inis and contains 3 olives.}