Friday, September 9, 2011

Uptown Bathroom

Our bathroom renovation is done. I don't know how to express my relief. Last Sunday I saw friends for the first time in 5 weeks for reasons other than food delivery and showering at their apartment. 

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are the before, during, and after shots.

We finished the bathroom on schedule at the end of August. We have been putting the "finishing touches" on it for the past few weeks. The quotes around "finishing touches" are ironic and meant to convey that sometimes a "finishing touch" can take 2.5 hours to execute. Like caulking around the floor line. Or hanging the shower curtain supports, or cleaning up the construction staging space, better known as our guest room.

We love the bathroom. I feel like a billionairess every night when I brush my teeth and apply moisturizer under its warm and well-placed lights. I call it the Uptown Bathroom because it is so sophisticated and timeless and luxurious.  (Though timeless is a dangerous adjective. The last time I heard someone say "timeless," she was lamenting the wide-brimmed asymmetrical sunhat she wore with her wedding dress in 1986.)

It is hard for me to pinpoint what I like most in our bathroom. Here are some of the most adored elements:

The charcoal tub. I sanded the exterior of the original cast-iron tub with fine sandpaper and applied Rustoleum, a very smelly-but-simple priming product. The Rustoleum was followed by flat gray paint called Dakon Gray by Philip's Perfect Colors and a flat finish varnish by Pratt & Lambert. I painted the feet a silver and coated those with a varnish as well. We had the white interior of the tub professionally refinished by Miracle Method. That is not a DIY project--their process was identical to painting a car.

The double sink. Having two sinks is pretty awesome. We don't have to share and we each get a medicine cabinet. That is cause for a baseline "hooray!" 

I had been eyeing the sink on the Restoration Hardware website for over a year. At my mom's suggestion, Dean and I drove one hour to Vacaville, CA, and checked out the Restoration Hardware outlet. Bingo!

The outlet has amazing medicine cabinets, sinks and hardware for 30% of the sticker price. The Robern medicine cabinets that we bought for $200 each are practically worth their own blog entry. They are so well-constructed and well-designed. They do not compare to any other medicine cabinet I have ever seen. Well worth the money.

The concession was that we had to mix metals in our bathroom to get the outlet deals. All hardware above the sinks is Satin Nickel (lights, medicine cabinets, and faucets). All other hardware in the bathroom is Polished Chrome (towel rack, shower system, sink base, and exposed plumbing below sink).  I think it works for one reason--we have grouped the metals in regions in the room. There is not obvious contrast between the nickel and the chrome because they are never within two feet of one another. Many designers are mixing metallics in their designs nowadays. Even so, it was a risk but I am happy with the finished product.

We had our own marble fabricated from an outfit called Marble City in San Carlos. They specialize in 1.25 inch marble which is the thickness we needed for a sink base that only had a frame, not a solid surface on which the marble could rest. On the marble lot we choose a giant slab of uncut and unpolished marble called Blue Sky. It looked very white with a few gray and blue accents before it got polished up. Low and behold, when that marble was sealed and delivered it looked much more detailed and colorful, primarily blue with dark gray detail, like a stormy sky. We were lucky the colors worked well in our bathroom because the finish definitely surprised us. Lesson learned--marble is accentuated when polished.

The lighting is great. It is so smart to position lights in the bathroom at eye-level. It makes you look so pretty when light floods your face from a horizontal direction. Plus, you should horde light bulbs that will soon be illegal with a really warm tone. We recycled the overhead light from the old bathroom to make up for my environmental naughtiness with the warm light bulbs.

The Italian porcelain floor is great. The herringbone pattern turned out beautifully. The subway tile walls are also lovely and inexpensive. Doing all of the tiling ourselves was not so lovely, but I must admit it was inexpensive. Dean will tell you those tales but I will announce that 3 out of my 10 fingers were worked raw one Sunday from tiling. I had a painful time washing my hands with soap afterward.

We also splurged on a new shower system which is beautiful. It is from an outfit called Sunrise  in Oakland, CA. I definitely recommend it.

Dean and I are breaking from renovations to ski all winter and also get a puppy. I am already scheming about our kitchen renovation and have a file folder of "inspiration clippings" for the project. Dean refuses to look at the file folder.


  1. Love the bathroom! Kudos to you two DIYers AGAIN!

    I will soon be a "puppy" grandmother! Please let us know when the puppy is "delivered" : )

    Love to you both!

  2. This is amazing! I hope to do something like this too one day... I love San Francisco homes and find your posts super inspiring!

  3. I love the floor tile! Where did you get it?

  4. Can you tell me more about the cabinet in the bathroom? Did you paint it yourself or purchase somewhere?

  5. Hi! The tile is 4x24" tile from It is Casalgranda Padana brand, Argento color.

    The cabinet is from craiglist and we painted it to match the bathroom.

  6. Lovely remodel! Could you tell me the dimensions of your bathroom? We plan to renovate our bathroom soon, and yours seems to be a very similar layout and size. Thanks!

  7. The bathroom dimensions are 6'1" by 11'4".

  8. Just saw this on Apartment Therapy and had to come see your whole blog. Absolutely LOVE what you've done with your place! Many kudos. (My husband and I are avid fans of the Victorians in SF, even though we live in Detroit.)

  9. You did a beautiful job! I'm currently in the planning stages of a remodel and am inspired by your work! Did you use the large or small medicine cabinets? The scale looks perfect in your bath, but I'm limited by space in mine...

  10. We used the large medicine cabinets from Restoration hardware and they are the perfect size. Lots of great storage. Good luck with your remodel, Megan! Thanks for your kind words.

  11. The objects in the bathroom are properly organize for the owners convenient in using it.

  12. Thanks for sharing your remodel. I was looking at the Restoration Hardware Gramercy Washstand and had a few questions about the install. I've seen the instructions online, but hoping to get input from someone who has installed one.

    - How is the countertop attached to the legs?
    - Did you attach the console legs to the studs or just to the wall? The instructions seem to encourage attachment to the studs given the heavy weight of the countertop.

    Thanks for any input!

  13. Jason--I installed the stand myself. I installed 2x8 backing into the wall after I demo-ed the existing bead board wainscot. Then I was able to screw the stand supports directly into wood behind the new tile. If you can't install backing, and the supports won't line up with your studs, RH includes pretty large gyp board anchors with the stand that should be sufficient to hold the stand and countertop.

    As for the countertop installation, we did not buy the RH marble top that comes with the stand. Instead we had a countertop costum made in a different marble called Blue Sky. We actually had the stone company that cut the top install it for us. Installation did not look that difficult though. The stone does not actually attach to the stand. It is held on the stand by gravity and just sits on rubber washers (included in stand accessory package) that fit into little indents on top of the stand legs. The most difficult part of the installation was making the countertop level. The stone installers had to use multiple washers to level it.

    1. Thanks Dean - really appreciate the response.

  14. I love your bathroom! I am looking at getting a RH gramercy sink base as well, though because it's second hand It isn't coming with the undermount sink, did you b one separately as well? If so do you mind sharing where you got that, as well as the faucets. Thank you!