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(Mis)adventures in Home Improvement

A beginner’s attempt at a power-room facelift.

Owning a home can be a rewarding and gratifying experience—but with little expertise in home improvement, I typically stumble my way through projects. These are my misadventures in home improvement.

I should have picked up on the subtle comments about our downstairs bathroom. I should have seen the signs. My wife had apparently been sending me hints for weeks that she wanted a bathroom remodel for our downstairs power room but I of course did not pick up on any of them until about the time we were planning our trip to the store.

The project would include a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures & even a vanity cabinet. I could cross off the painting and fixtures as troublesome because those were familiar territory (even covered in previous (mis)adventures) but the vanity? That meant plumbing work.

We began by taking inventory of all necessary measurements and items we would need: hardware, paint, available space for vanity, etc. I cannot stress enough how talking these things through helps with home improvement projects. Spending that extra effort preparing can make all the difference once you’ve crossed the Rubicon and started cutting.

Any time you can have a hand in making your house a little more like home is a gratifying thing—so with list in hand, we picked out paint color, the vanity and matching fixtures. Now this is arguably the most exciting part of the project and definitely the calm before the storm. Getting back home I battened down the hatches, removed the fixtures, turned off the water and began taking apart the sink. Porcelain pedestal sinks are pretty heavy and I do recommend another set of hands! Luckily the plumbing wasn’t terribly difficult once you start following the pipes to their respective connectors and remember to turn off the water. Did I mention turning off the water(?) because I actually didn’t when I said I had earlier…resulting in a bit of a spraying water problem. Remember to turn off the water.

With everything now removed and dry, I prepped the room with blue tape, sanded any uneven blemishes and got to painting. Luckily with being only a half bath, the painting was quick and before long, I was back to installing the vanity. The modern conveniences of a home improvement center provided us with a nice looking, pre-built vanity and easy to follow installation instructions. Instructions that consisted of placing the cabinet into position and using a sealant to prevent water from seeping behind the sink. After that dried, I moved to installing the faucet and plumbing.

Again, plenty of great step-by-step instructions that if followed properly work great. I only had to redo the plumbing twice! The trickiest parts are making sure you properly apply the pipe-thread sealant and silicone when needed. My biggest fear was finishing the project, only to come back a week later to water leaking into my basement because my pipe work wasn’t properly sealed. After all my connections were fit and sealed, I turned on the water and began to test the different points. Low and behold, I found one connector where droplets began to form, so I dried it off, carefully applied more sealant and retested. Success.

With the vanity installed, faucet hooked up and the paint dry, I was able to remove the blue tape, pick up the debris and move on to the final pieces of the puzzle: mount the towel bars and hang the mirror.

And just like that, in a little under four hours, I stumbled my way through painting, plumbing work and even a little hardware for a mini bathroom remodel. Not bad for an afternoon of (mis)adventures in home improvement.


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