Thursday, April 09, 2015

Bathroom before & after pictures

The original bathroom in this apartment was a glorious relic of the 1950s or 60s, guessing by the color of the tiles. Many of the tiles were cracked. Some had been painted. There was no ventilation in the bathroom, so mold was growing on the ceiling and walls. The bathtub had also been painted, probably more than once.

Before photos: 

This bathroom had a window that opened into the back bedroom. Kind of strange, but it was the only source of light and ventilation, albeit secondhand.

The adjoining WC was similarly dismal. The original tiles--burgundy, pale yellow, and aqua blue--had been painted with matte beige paint. Well, everything had been painted beige. We have a humidity problem because of water infiltrating into our apartment, most likely from the neighboring building. The plaster is falling off the walls, the ceiling is stained and damp, and during rainy periods water slowly drips down the wall.

The bathroom renovation all started with leboncoin (French equivalent of Craigslist). I saw a new floor model Jacuzzi tub for a great price. This one:

We did some measuring and realized it would fit in the space with some creative rearranging. Once we actually brought the tub into the apartment, we realized that the tub was too big to fit through the bathroom doorway. Well, the tub HAD to stay so what else could we do but open up a hole in the wall?

Demolition photos

Demolition took nearly a full week with several people working. Back in North America, you'd simply chisel the tiles off and, if needed, take the cementboard or drywall off with it. Easily done in a few hours. Here, we were painfully chipping off tiles inch by inch; they had been double mortared onto a solid cement wall.

And the mess...oh the mess...plaster, cement, and earth dust everywhere. The wall was thick and mostly made of solid earth, embedded with bits of brick, wood, and even tiles in certain places.

I wrote earlier about the demolition, so you might remember some of the pictures. We also had to replumb the entire bathroom. 

We created a doorway where the window used to be. It improved the space dramatically. Now the bathroom has much more light and aeration. And it feels larger as well. I hope to install a sliding door, but for now we're just leaving the doorway open.

Now the "after" photos....

See wasn't that tub worth it???

We looked for tiles for weeks...couldn't agree on anything...and then these large gray tiles showed up on the clearance pile for 50% off. They are more gray than they appear in the pictures and look somewhat like concrete and somewhat like marble. Every tile is different, so they have a natural, organic feel. The accent is a 30 cm square sheet textured marble mosaics, cut into 10 cm wide strips. 

I love heated towel racks. They feel so civilized. Plus they double as heaters so they are practical luxuries.

We covered the walls with the same textured fiberglass wallpaper that is in the rest of the house.

I found this little hall table for 49 Euros at a secondhand shop. I painted it with oil-based glossy white paint. An irregular stone sink finished it off perfectly. We cut a little U-shaped notch in the drawer to fit around the drain pipe--so the drawer still works! I still haven't bought a mirror yet...waiting for the perfect one to catch my eye.

Here's the toilet room (aka WC). We just tiled it on Saturday and grouted it on Monday. The walls are white, like the rest of the house. Goodbye, beige!


  1. I absolutely love it!! You guys did such a great job. I especially love the stone sink.

  2. I am impressed again with how much work you put into your houses. Will you be leaving it all behind in France? Serious question: How do you find the drive to do such improvements?

    1. We bought this place with the long-term plan of either coming back every May & June (and enrolling the kids in public school for those 2 months). Or, if possible, more frequently than that! So it's something we're keeping forever and will rent as a vacation rental when we're not in France. We figured that it will pay for itself that way.

      As for the drive...I don't know, it just needed to be done. We also have a deadline because the apartment must be completely finished and in tip-top shape before we go back to the States this summer. Having HelpX people has been a life-saver with these projects.

  3. Great improvement. We are about to put our house on the market. Also, I still have your name on the bedroom set, if you are still interested when the house sells!


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