Slowly Making a Home

by Danny Zawacki

Sometimes home owning drags you down. You look up at the ceiling and wish you hadn’t seen the thing that needs to be fixed or you move something and find that the problem is bigger than you imagined. Sometimes you go into the basement to get the dog some breakfast and you realize the drain pipe for the shower separated and now your bath is all over the basement floor and you have to email your boss to let her know you’ll be late to work because you need to clean up the mess. I’m just spitballing here, not actually referring to life things… Other times, a project comes together with hardly a problem. Days like that are the days that I live for.

When we bought our house, Ellie and I made dozens of plans of what we would do to each room. Knock this out, open that up. Paint this color, move this there and figure out what goes there. The list goes on and on and probably contradicts itself at least once. In fact, the list is so long, it is hard to know where to start. But start we did!

We thought we would start easy, and cheaply once we realized that an 8′ length of wood can be bought for less than $2.00. We wanted to spruce (actually pine, but I couldn’t think of a good way to work the pun into the sentence so you get this long, rambling aside) up the bathroom. When we bought the house, the bathroom looked…unique. The wall was the color of avocado that had sat on the counter for a day or two. In the toilet space, which can be closed off with a pocket door, there was a towel bar next to the toilet that just didn’t make sense and some heavy-looking cabinets placed on the walls for extra storage. None of it was really our style. Take a look:

Toilet room - Before we moved in

This is what our toilet room looked like before we moved into the house. It was…day old avocado.

Mind you, we focused on this small space in the bathroom first because it was easier to do that and still have the impact. Right after we moved in, I took down the towel bar and the cabinet and we put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It really lightened up the space and made it more comfortable. Fun fact, the bathroom was the most difficult room in the house to paint because there were so many angles to work around and different things to tape off.

So what did the room look like for the first six months we lived in it and after we had put our personal touch on it? Like this:

Toilet room - Painted and extra stuff removed from walls

This is what our toilet room looked like after we got rid of that horrible avocado color and took down the cabinet and the towel bar. Also, the window is new.

It’s nicer, but it’s still boring. What about the aforementioned pine boards? The plan was to take a few days, cut them up, stain them and then apply a couple of coats of polyurethane to them and screw them up behind the toilet. Ultimately, that is what we did but I underestimated how much work it would be to cut the boards using a circular saw. I’m apparently really bad at using a circular saw to make cuts. I had to cut some of them more than once. Also, a large delivery of mulch as made and we needed to move it so we could have our garage back. So it took a long time to get all the pieces ready.

But when it did, it took maybe 30 minutes to install. It would have been less but I forgot about the water line for the toilet and I needed to cut around that and then level the boards over the top of it. Take a look at how it came out:

Toilet room - New wall

Toilet room after installing the wood boards behind the toilet. It feels so fancy in the bathroom now that I find myself just going in there to look at it.

What this photo doesn’t show is the eight inches of uncovered wall at the top of the boards. Apparently, 1x4s do not measure 4 inches wide. According to my dad, 3.5″ is the industry standard for a 1×4. Why is that a thing? Fortunately, I had some extra wood in the basement that I could cut to size. I opted for two actual four-inch boards to fill the eight-inch gap. It’s hardly noticeable but man that would have been nice to know going into this project. It could have all be done at once because I would have bought, cut, and stained the correct amount of wood.

What do you think of the new toilet space?