The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Bath Page 1 of 4

Home Stay+ Bath Door Refinish

Today marks the start of home stay week 3. It is frustrating to watch the world to get sicker each day, while doing nothing is actually my best way to help. I wonder how I’d feel about this time when it passes, like ten years from now. But for now, the uncertainty gets the upper hand sometimes.

To keep my mind occupied, and more importantly, to make myself feeling useful, I turned to DIY. Tangible, tedious, fulfilling, and therapeutic. I’ve organized the garage and built cedar planters for the patio. This week, I refinished our master bathroom door.

The second-hand bath door

Our master room has two doorways, and this is the door we mounted between the media room and the bath.

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I do not think Charlie digs the concept of glass door at all.

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We got this door second-hand from Resource Central’s resale store. It is made from solid wood and double-paneled glass. It is super heavy.

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From distance the door looked pretty nice. But when you looked it closely, its color read rather yellow and it had screw holes from hanging blinds.

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We’d like to re-stain it to espresso to match other doors in the basement.

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First step: Sand

The first step of finishing any wood product is to sand off the old finish down to bare wood. We moved it into the garage and I started by covering the glass with plastic drape.

01 before

02 before

I usually use random orbital sander on large surfaces, but for the rather narrow door frames I chose my small 3M hand sander. I only had 80, 120 and 220 grit sandpapers on hand so I started with 80 grit.

03 80 grit

The wood is fairly soft. A few passes with 80 grit sandpaper took the finish right off.

04 after 80

The dimension of the door was written on the side of the door:

05 side before

Came right off with the 80 grit sandpaper.

06 side after 80

Before sanding:

07 before

After 80 grit:

08 after 80

It took just 5 mins on each side.

09 color change

To sand the inside trim I took the 80 grits sandpaper off the sander and held it with my hands:

10 80 on trim

Trim before sanding:

11 before trim

After 80 grits:

12 after 80

After vacuuming the sand dust away, I proceeded with 120 grit sandpaper.

13 after 80

And finished everything off with 220 grits sandpaper:

15 after 220

Step 2: Clean and patch (then sand again)

By this point the door frame was very smooth. I cleaned off the sand dust with a damp microfiber cloth:

18 after clean

17 after clean

16 after clean

Then patched the staple and screw holes with wood putty:

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After a light sanding where the putty had been applied, the door was ready for the stain!

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Step 3: Stain!

For the stain I picked Varathane in espresso color. I recently read about shellac as a wood finish and decided to give it a try.

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Rubbing on the first coat of stain. I immediately liked the color of the stain and how easy it was applied.

24 after stain

You can see how much the espresso color of stain darkened the wood. It looked warm, but did not read red or yellow. I am very happy with this color.

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After letting the first coat of stain dry for a couple hours, I applied the second coat. I do not think the second coat darkened the wood much more, but rather filled in the raw spots and enriched the color. It added more weight to the appearance.

26 second coat

This was how the color looked like in bright sun light after the second coat had dried. With cooler and dimmer lighting, it read a lot darker. I think it would match the other two doors really well.

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Final step: Seal and protect

After the stain dried I applied the shellac. It is pretty thick – kinda a maple syrup consistency, and dries very fast. I had to work very fast to make sure each layer was thin.

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Can you tell that it added a lot more shine to the wood? It was very pretty in person with just the first coat!

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I applied three thin layers in total, with one hour of drying time in between.

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After the last layer had applied I let the door sit. It takes time for the solvent (ethanol in this case) to evaporate completely and the shellac to harden. We have not mounted it yet. But I like the finish! Do you?

Finally! The Master Bath is Complete!

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It’s been a long journey to get to this reveal post. But hey, we are finally here! Let us unpack, shall we? (And if you are interested, you can see the old bath here.)

The glass shower

This new bathroom features all upgrades we had craved for years. Starting from the new shower glass. We’ve been living in student housing and cheap rentals before this house, and all of them sported shower curtains. Having a piece of clear glass that we can see through into the shower, that is seamless, custom-made, and that requires a squeegee, is like ten Christmas’ wishes come true at once.

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The shower door and installation was done by L & L glass, a local glass company in Denver. Our experience with them is nothing but great: efficient communication, quality choices of the products, fair price, and quick and reliable service. Every interaction with L & L glass we had, from the showroom quote, in-house measurement, to the actual installation was a breeze and a pleasure. I cannot recommend them enough.

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To create a see-through shower we chose clear glass, and Slav picked brush nickel finish for the hardware. To keep the view of the glass unobstructed, we opted for a single knob instead of a long handle on the door. The fixed panel is held by silicone and a single clip, and there is a door sweeper under the moving panel as well.

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For a basement bathroom moisture is the biggest enemy. We stopped the shower glass at the height of the soffit to allow steam to escape. The new bathroom fan was mounted right outside of the shower to help with the moisture removal.

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The floor-to-ceiling tiles and large shower niche

We like to keep the bathroom squeaky clean, so floor-to-ceiling tile is one of the first things we agreed upon. For the color, I listened to my minimalist heart and went with two contrasting tones. I showed Slav the inspiration photo below and he immediately agreed. So we basically used the same colors and sizes for our tiles.

The inspiration photo

Our bath:

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In person this color combination looks even better than the photo. While the slate keeps the room grounded and feeling steady, the white lightens it and makes it restful. Both of slate and white tiles we picked have warm undertones, so the room does not feel sterile.

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We picked pebble tile for the shower which is so nice! It is like a foot massage every time taking a shower.

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Same as the tile choices, I found out what shower niche to install with the help of Pinterests. As the inspiration photo below, we chose to the one that spans the whole width of the end wall.

The inspiration:

Image result for small bathroom remodel light gray

Our bath:

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Unlike the photo above, we made ours even simpler using the same white tiles in the shower. We did that to further reduce visual clutter. I think it worked very well with our small bath and see-through shower doors.

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I crave some green color in the basement but there is not enough lighting for plants. This Buddha head brings a bit green into the bath.

The new water-wise toilets and bidet

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Although the shower and tiles are the most prominent elements in the bath, the most important piece in any bathroom will always be the toilet. Not only we got the water-saving toilet from our favorite local water-conservation non-profit, we also splurged for a bidet seat. Bidets are necessity at home in East Asian and central Europe, so not having one during the time living in the States felt weird to us. We vowed to make this house ours which means it will fit our needs and desires. A bidet in our master bath is certainly a right step towards our goal.

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The new double-sink vanity + medicine cabinet storage

In order to expand the footprint of the master bath, we removed a linen closet in the hallway during demo. We chose a vanity to add storage:

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The sink + vanity combo is another of our favorite in the master bath. We do not like to store things in the open so choosing trough-style sinks with limited counter space is a conscious choice.

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In this way we can keep the sinks as big as possible, while keeping the vanity narrow to save its floor print. With our narrow bathroom, this particular vanity allowed 38″ space in front of it, which enables two people to walk around without problem. It also leaves enough room for us to operate the 29″ wide shower door.

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The middle drawers do not interfere with the shower door:

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In addition, we mounted a medicine cabinet above the vanity:

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This medicine cabinet holds a ton. It is only 4″ thick inside but 48″ long and 26″ tall. It is at least four times bigger than the one we previously used and provided more than enough storage for our daily use.

Where do you store your toilet brush? 

To date we have used our bathroom for a couple days. It is very functional despite not having a towel bar or a toilet paper holder. With the brand new tiles and drywall it is hard to decide where to drill for these items. We are still on look out for a few things, such as a toilet brush. Is there an elegant yet functional toilet brush out there? One can be stored off the floor? If you have good suggestions, let me know!

Bed, Bath, and Beyond

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Three weeks have passed since I left you with the photo above and this length to-do list mostly for the basement bathroom. Since then I have been slowly figuring out the big ticket items. I’d like to give you an update on our progress, and here is the to-do list first:

Getting new bath vanity and sinks
Bathroom fixtures! Vanity! Toilet!
Glass shower door by professionals
DIY install 4 new doors for the bathment bedroom, bathroom, and entry, including a pocket door between the bath and the bedroom
Closets in the bedroom!
Baseboards and trims in the bedroom and media room

Vanity, sink, and plumbing

As you can see the first four items are all for the bathroom. We actually bought vanity and sinks before summer, but the incompetent contractor (whom we have fired) did the plumbing wrong and they have to be returned. Thanks for IKEA’s full refund policy we were able to minimize the lose, then we found this similar one on Wayfair:

Faycelles Rigel 48" Double Bathroom Vanity

Ordering vanity and sinks online felt intimidating. Before pulling the trigger, we triple-checked with our new plumber that this one would fit our space AND work with the rough plumbing. It will be delivered to our home this weekend, and our plumber Chris will come first thing next week to look at it in person and make sure it is really gonna fit. Speaking of Chris, he is truly amazing! He is not only knowledgeable and experienced, but also super transparent about his approach. After giving us all the information we need, he even suggested NOT to book him until we figure out the shower door installation, which should go in first before the vanity.

A new glass shower door

Following Chris’s advice, we shifted our focus on finding a shower door. Slav wants a see-through glass shower door to make the bathroom feel bigger. After getting several quotes, we trusted our business to a local company called L and L Glass. They are specialized, professional, and never pushed any product on us. Among all the quotes they are not the cheapest, but we have already learned in a hard way to not go with the cheapest!

Our final choice is very similar to the inspiration photo below. The difference? Ours will be composed of two clear glass panels, one fixed and one swinging door. We also opted for a single knob instead of a handle for the door.

Seneca Adjustable 72.75" x 74" Hinged Frameless Shower Door

To date, the shower door will be installed after the Thanksgiving weekend, then Chris will come in the following week to install the vanity, sinks, faucets, shower fixtures, and toilet. After he puts everything together, as the last step – we will install the medicine cabinet which has been collecting dust in the basement for 6 months!

Doors, doors! And doors…

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With all the bathroom work scheduled in early December, we might (!) have a complete bathroom by mid-December, minus the doors. Yes, the doors. There are three empty doorway waiting for their doors, and as we are on it, we will replace the basement entry door under the stairs too.

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This entry door and the media room-bedroom door are easy-peasy. They are both in standard sizes, so we simply ordered the doors from Home Depot website. However, the two doors leading to the bathroom are merely 76″ tall. That means we need to either cutting the standard door down, or customize-building them. I am still trying to figure out the best  and cheapest way to go about it. Luckily we do not have to have doors to actually use the bathroom…

Now the fun part: working with the PAX

With all the bathroom stuff (almost) figured out, I finally had some mental capacity for bedroom closets. Slav is completely hands-off on this project, so I am taking full responsibility of the design, the purchase, and the assembly (hopefully Slav will lend a hand there…). Although there are a lot of decision to make, it feels like a good break from the bathroom decisions!

To make things easier I decided to design and purchase my closet first. My request of closet is simple and does not require fancy add-ons, And because it is sitting along a long wall, the design challenge is minimal. Slav’s side of the closet is a lot more complicated because of the location of our basement windows. So I hope what I learned from designing and installing my closet will be helpful to the design of Slav’s. So stay tuned for the big closet post!

Baseboards and trims

The very last thing we need to tackle to complete the basement reno 1.0, is to install all the baseboards and trims. This step should come after installing the closet and doors, which means we will likely not get to this part until January. Since we have already picked out the profile we wanted, it should be a fun and easy project when the pressure of bathroom and holidays is behind us. Right now, the bathroom and the closets! I cannot wait to come back with some completed installation of…anything, the closet, or the bathroom, anything really! We will get there, I promise!

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