It’s starting to look and feel like a bathroom. We turned on the water, and sure enough, it shot out of the — well, out of the pipe that’s where the tub filler will eventually go. Small miracle, but we had water in a tub.

The subway tile went up the walls and looks great against the floor. Really good. And the grey pencil tile looks sharp, if a little  Thom Browne-y. The grout is only on half the floor as they ran out, but it’s going to look great.

subway tile

Subway tile up wall

But the big reveal came with the tub, which looks crazy amazing. I know Amy will think this is awful, but Barbra Streisand would in fact love to bathe here.

tub surround


Start of Week Four

Word is this is the last week of our bath project. (Not quite believing it.) Today they put down the tile floor. I was hoping when this happened, I’d come home and there’d be an extreme makeover moment that included gasps, tears and a call to my mother. Not there yet. But the floor looks good, even without grout.

basketweave tile going inbaskweave tile going in

I didn’t see the guys and got home late, but did get a call from a neighbor during the day saying they saw our marble come in and that it was beautiful. And seeing it tonight did induce a slight gasp. It really is a gorgeous stone, even piled up in the mess that used to be our bedroom.

cararra marble vanitycararra marble tub surround Bart, meanwhile, is thoroughly non-plussed.


Back in Black

Eddie was here today waterproofing, which entailed adding a layer of black, rubber-y paint, some Tyvek-y gauze, and more rubber paint to where the “wet” will be. Now it looks like the bathroom of a Goth teenager.

waterproof paintwaterproof

Week two: progress

Most of the sheet rock went up, including the ceiling, which is so much higher than before! (Okay, really only about three inches, but still.) The tub is in. The closets are replastered and in great shape. New cement board is in the shower area. The pocket doors are (mostly) in. All looks good.

new door to bathroom cement board and tub

We also had to make a few judgment calls this week. Like what wood to use on the vanity. (We chose walnut.) We drove out to Astoria Tiles to meet with (another) Montenegrin named George to pick out our carrara slab. (We chose something called Joyea or Julea or who really knows.) But it’s exactly what we were looking for — it’ll be the top of the vanity, the tub surround, the shampoo niche in the shower and the door saddles. George was great — took some time with us and showed us around the shop.

Also, a couple more shots of the guys this week. Carlos, from Ecuador, and then Eddie with his nephew, who’s learning the ropes on this job. All of them couldn’t be nicer.

Carlos from UruguayThe Montenegrans

Ted, who doesn’t smile for the camera. And finally, the kitties are back and doing very well after summer camp at Uncle Steven’s on 16th Street. However, they hated not being able to get upstairs once home. Bart figured out how to beat down the plastic tarp in about 24 hours, however, and is now fully engaged himself with the renovation.

Ted McCannBart in the tarp

The Team, pt. 2

While the workmen are from Montenegro, our friend-designer is from Virginia. We’ve known Amy forever, and she’s been crazy helpful with this project — even though she claims “it’s nothing.” In fact, she can pinpoint what you like about a room even though you can’t articulate it, she figures out ways to copy stuff you like without breaking the bank, she’s got exquisite taste, and she knows all sorts of tradesman in NYC. And best, when it seemed like Ryan and I couldn’t agree on something, she’d not only mediate, she’d figure out a better option that we hadn’t even thought of.

Here Amy is with the tile we’re using, which she helped pick out at Bella Tile here in NY.

Amy recently re-did her bathroom, too, and said it looks like Barbra Streisand lives there, so based on that experience, she advised us against some of the more flashy tiles we had initially liked, which were sort of Gianni Versace-esque. Thanks, Babs!

The Team

If your project isn’t DIY, seems the biggest decision is choosing the right team. I feel pretty lucky that we got a good one going here. We talked with two great GCs, both highly recommended. The bids were nearly identical, but one seemed to lean heavily on the potential for cost overruns in his bid, while Ted seemed more certain we could stay on budget; also, he seemed to get our sensibility a bit more.  So Ted McCann is our guy.

However, our apartment is a duplex on the fourth and fifth floors of a walk-up, and the bath is on five. And since we began, there’s been an unrelenting heat wave in NYC, with multiple 100+ days, and there’s no AC in the stairwell. The guys, for demo and then product delivery, have easily gone up and down those five flights 150 times. I’m pretty sure this will not go down as their favorite project.

Yesterday, they had to haul the new 200lb cast iron tub up the five flights. They apparently tried to have the four of them carry it, but it was too awkward. So Mickey said screw it, put it ON HIS BACK, and he’d hump it up. Ted captured the last flight with his iPhone.

Week One: demolition

So the first week is over. We were told to scram by our contractor during the demolition phase. Staying with our friend Jon this week ended up being fun, despite never having the right clothes, shoes, toiletries etc.  And from the short visits we made by the apartment, think moving out was wise. The noise was terrifying; the dust both microscopic and abundant. (Also, we shipped the two kitties off to summer camp at our friend Steven’s apartment on 16th Street. Again, the right move, but I’ve missed them an embarrassing amount and visited them almost every day. Sorry, Steve.)

Here are some photos of the demolition. What you’re seeing here is the landing of our second floor with a new “bump out” to open up the bathroom a little. The framing is for a pocket-door.

And here’s where the his-and-his medicine cabinets will go. They’ll connect, so it’ll be like one big cabinet with two doors. I never liked the individual mirrors over the double sinks — too matchy-matchy. We’ll see how this solution turns out.

And here’s a shot of the room — it looks HUGE without all the cabinets, fixtures, tub, ceiling, walls, etc. I felt like telling our contractor to skip putting everything back in.  Extra space in NYC is intoxicating…

So far, everything is going alright. We had a couple small bumps — the sub-floor needed replacing, which added $850 to the budget. And the Kohler tub we ordered apparently arrived with a crack in it, so we scrambled and found another in stock here in NYC. For the hassle, Gracious Home was, um, gracious enough (gong!) to give us a big discount on the new tub, which means we’ll be able to do a tub surround. (Thanks to Anna at GH for everything — she’s been amazing.) And actually think I might like the new tub more.

And one last thing — now that demolition is over, we’re moving back into our pad. But we’ve put the mattress downstairs into the dining room. Chic, in a Japanese sort of way.