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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Outhouse Reno--The Two-Year Quick Fix

Let me start by reminding you that my house is an antique.  Almost 125 years old, with years of neglect and abuse between the builder and me, it is never going to be a fine showplace because it wasn't built to be one in the first place.  The best I can tell from my archeological probing, this house was meant to be a comfortable--by 1889 standards anyway--family home.  Further investigation reveals that during WWII it was turned into a duplex, one up, one down, most likely in a great hurry using cheap labor, or maybe the only labor available, and even cheaper materials--think recycling gone horribly wrong.  The two bathrooms were no more than a pair of outhouses stacked against one corner of the house, and when we moved in, I knew at some point they would require the most attention--translate dollars-- of any rooms in the house, and that's saying a lot, believe me!

We started upstairs, and thankfully my son moved in about the time I realized this was way more than one little woman should take on.  It was bad, nothing level, weird--as in possessed--plumbing and wiring and the worst layout ever devised.  It took the better part of a year, but when finished, we had a nice, solid, efficient bathroom we could take pride in.
Two years ago, while John and I were on vacation, my son was given the assignment of gutting the second bathroom, the one downstairs, the one I thought would require little more than a simple reno. Just pull down the plaster, hang drywall, replace the fixtures, tile and paint, right?  Then came the call, right after we'd taken a glorious ride on the Ducks in Chattanooga.  "Uh, Mom, there's a problem with the bathroom."

I hate it when he says that.  That innocent word "problem" usually means money and time I didn't want to spend.  My stomach twists and my pulse races, but I always answer with something calm like "Oh, really?"

"Yeah.  When I pulled down the plaster, you can see daylight through the walls."
Okay, this is not so bad. It happens in old houses, little crevices that can be easily caulked.  I ask him to send me a picture.  At most, I say reassuringly, we can just replace a little siding, right?  The pictures say not so.  Basically, the exterior wall of the bathroom looks like a louvered door.  No wonder that bathroom was so drafty! Long story short, we ended up blowing out the entire exterior, replacing floor, studs, window, the works.  To make things more interesting, the floor had three levels, between which the plumbing was sandwiched.  Nothing of the old could be salvaged, which in case you've never done any reno, plays havoc with your budget.  Havoc as in at least triples it, if not worse.

Two years later, we're almost done, which is a good thing, because my son is moving back east next month.  After all the wonderful things he's done to my house, it's back to just me again.  At least now I have a lovely new bathtub to soak away the aches and pains.
Not finished, but getting close!!  There will be a Vanity Reveal in the next week or so (I hope!)
 This room is so tiny the best view is from the hallway!  That tile knee-wall in the foreground--a major design challenge--looks really professional in person, like we knew what we were doing!
 Tin-look ceiling tiles and crown molding--pint-sized elegance! And wait 'til you see the vanity!
 I love the tile work, and other than choosing the tile, I had absolutely nothing to do with it!  Kudos to the son for such a beautiful job!


  1. Looks great! Chris is very talented!

  2. Oh, this gives me hope. I have a bathroom that has been in suspended renovation for over a year because the scale of the work required spun out of control. What would it take to get your son back to KS for a few weeks? ;)

    (Visiting from the Kansas Women Bloggers link-up -- thanks for sharing!)