January 22, 2014

Bonfire of the Vanity

Even though I recently turned forty and January is the month for ambitious New Year’s resolutions, I’m not considering cosmetic surgery (at least not yet!). We are, however, weighing our options for doing a “pull-and-replace” cosmetic renovation of our upstairs bathroom. As the only wash room on the second floor, it works double-duty as both the master and the guest bath.

I’ll be the first to admit that our bathroom’s current state isn’t in the same realm of horrendous like this “before” photo. And yeah, this definitely qualifies as a first-world problem. And yes, I am indeed grateful to be blessed with indoor plumbing. (When I visited my grandma’s house in South Korea as a little kid, her dark and dank outhouse had a seemingly bottomless stone pit that I was scared to death of falling into.) But ya know, we just want to brighten and modernize it because we spend such an inordinate amount of time in there. Here are some shots of what we’re dealing with:

It’s a fairly cramped 5′ x 8′ space. I’d like to replace the big floor tiles with rectangular gray linen tiles and thin grout lines.

I’d like to burn this vanity! (OK, not really; I’m not an arsonist.) It’s very dated, of mediocre quality and too wide for the space. (Don’t you love the seashell-shaped sink?) And the medicine cabinet is old and rusted on the inside, plus the plantation-style front collects a film of stubborn dust.

I’m dying to replace these chunky terracotta tiles with white subway tile. The grout has become a magnet for mold. The tub is an old Jacuzzi that has gross, funky gunk accumulating in its unused jets. It’s the biggest pain to keep clean. A simple white standard tub would fit in much better.

Now that you think I’m the pickiest person on earth, here’s a sampling of what I’m aiming for:

I could do without the black paint on the ceiling, but overall, I like the feel of this bathroom. (Source: Apartment Therapy)

This bathroom has a similar but warmer vibe. I would go with a lighter vanity instead of the dark wood. (Source:

Of course, we already found our perfect new vanity on Amazon and added it to our Wish List:

This vanity is 30″ wide and the cabinetry is solid wood. It has ample storage, an undermount ceramic sink and thick marble countertop with backsplash. (Excuse me while I drool.)

The big question we’re facing is cost. We’re currently fielding estimates from several contractors since “DIY” is not in our vocabulary. The numbers so far have ranged from discouraging to outrageous. For example, one place wanted to charge us $16,000. Huh? For that money, I could book a short trip to paradise or spend half a night in New York. They also claimed the project would take three weeks to complete. Again, what are they smoking?

Stay tuned…

Update on March 15, 2014: Well, we did it! Check out this post for the “after” pics.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. You know I’m following your progress closely! I have similar ideas for our re-do. Love the white subway tile.

  2. […] because…I survived our bathroom renovation! My first reno experience EVER. If you recall, we were on the fence about actually going through with it. After a little more hemming and hawing, we decided to […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Aspirations, House Proud