September 08 2021 – Jayne Graham
We all love to watch a good ensuite renovation show on T.V. and watch how quick it goes from an outdated bathroom to a glistening resort style day spa, however what we don't see is all the hard work, variations and challenges that go along with it! So I thought I would take you on our recent ensuite renovation journey, the good, the bad and the ugly... ok there was no ugly but there were a few little bumps along the way. I do also want to preface this with how much I love our new ensuite!
We live in a lovely old Californian Bungalow cira, I have no idea, but it did have an extension about 15 years ago. Part of this extension was the ensuite which is actually a gorgeous, large, naturally lit room. It just had a spa bath in the corner, ski chalet wooden slat ceiling, a stain glass window feature and a shower that you had to step about 50cm over the ledge to get into. I must admit though, one thing that still remains and it one of the reasons I fell in love with this house when we looked at it, was the roof skylight, it is actually the entire width of the room and you can look up at the stars from the shower and bath!
Step 1. The Design Process.
So the first thing we did was sit down with a gorgeous Interior Designer from Smart Style Bathrooms and worked through what our vision was. We didn't want to do too many structural changes, but a few key things we did want, was to maxmise the light, have tiles all the way to the roof, storage galore (as our old room had only 3 drawers) and also we loved grey texture, black accessories and timber vanities.
We were provided with a design, that we didn't really change much of at all, and then we headed out to the tile and fixtures shop. I met with our designer and we picked out some gorgeous feature tiles for a back splash and lovely grey tiles for the walls and floor and selected a lovely benchtop and brought them home to show hubby .... my closet interior designer! He didn't like my feature tile and then he said there was no "wow" to the colours we picked ... hmmmm.
Anyway so I took him to the tile shop (note to self, should have taken him the first time) and he chose the current tile - which is gorgeous, but 3 times the price of the budget I was given! And then he wanted us to spec a concrete benchtop, which we did, he chose a super duper slim line toilet seat (looks great, but honestly I cant feel the difference) and he chose a 200kg cast stone bath .... and suddenly our budget was blown! Here is where expectations v reality kicks in! So after conversations with our designer we decided to go back to a stone benchtop as there was no compromise on the tiles or the super duper slim line toilet seat or the bath, but the end result was actually better than expected. Our designer had secured an off cut of our favourite ceaserstone calcutta nuvo. I had wanted this in our kitchen but we couldn't afford it. And to find it as a cut off for the two sizes we needed in the bathrooms was a miracle really! So we then went and chose our tap fixtures and fittings and it was time for demo!
This took one day! It was pretty awesome to see our old bathroom disappear. But it did give me false hope as to how quickly everything else would happen. Don't get me wrong, our ensuite renovation actually went to plan regarding timing, it is just so deceiving once there is just a shell as to how much there is to do!
So after the demo it was time for the re-piping, electrical planning and then the vanity went in and tiling. This took approximately 2-3 weeks to finalise. Oh yeah, I mentioned we got a 200kg bath, this was the first thing delivered and took pride of place on our driveway for a few weeks. There is a bit of a story with this bath, let's just say it was one of the challenges! One of our other little challenges was that the recess above the bath could not actually be as long as we wanted it to. Unfortunately the bedroom wall behind the ensuite started a little closer than expected and we found one drill bit pop through to the other room - whoops! So it was just remeasured, recentred and no one except us would really know! Except my son with a hole in his wall, until it is fixed!
So, after the vanity and our gorgeous benchtop went in the tiling started. Now our gorgeous Italian tiles were 800 x 800! Stunning but really heavy for the tiler. I had also been having dreams about tiles not lining up and noticed how in every toilet I went to I was looking at the tiling alignment to the point it was driving me crazy! But can I say, a good tiler knows exactly what they are doing and we had some amazing tilers and they maximised every 800 x 800 tile we had! I haven't found one tile I would have aligned differently (ha ha)! They spent a long time cutting and making sure the tiles were perfect! So it gets exciting once the tiles are down as you can vision the end result! It was time to put the toilet, showerscreen, fixtures and bath in!
Then it came to putting the bath in (remember its 200kg), and there were 5 men waiting in my driveway at 7.30am to put it inside and unfortunately the bath had been damaged in transit. It has been checked prior, but not right at the end where there was a big dint! Oh No! As it had been sitting in our drive way since the beginning you can imagine my husbands reaction.. yikes. However, Smart Style Bathrooms were amazing, at first we thought we were going to have to wait 6-8 weeks, which you can imagine our disappointment, but we were then told there actually was another one in Perth - Yay! So two days later the same 5 strapping lads were opening the new bath (on the drive way) and realised it was the wrong bath!! Strike 2, you can imagine everyones reaction! I actually had to laugh as I really didn't want to cry. So, again we thought we were back to our 6 week wait, but we got the call, there was actually the right one available and it was on its way! So to cut a long story short, after 2 failed attempts, I closed myself in my office whilst the same men carried this crazy heavy bath into our bathroom. I didn't want to know anything about it until it was in! And it was so worth it! The bubbles were flowing that night!
After the bath finally found it's new home the painting was done, final electrical fit out was completed and a new exhaust fan was installed. The installation of the exhaust fan was another interesting challenge. Unfortunately the cut out of the old one was too big for the new stylish one we wanted, and we had beams in the roof that wouldn't allow the new motor to fit! So again our inventive team at Smart Style Bathrooms came up with a solution so it would work! We did have to change the shape of our fan, but in the end it actually looks ok! I also got to know one of the team members at Smart Style Bathrooms well, as we waited all day for a courier to drop off the new exhaust fan which was meant to arrive within the hour ... maybe half the day later! Don't get me wrong he was working whilst we were talking! I was not procrastinating that day I promise!
3. Final Reveal Of Our Ensuite Renovation.
So we moved back upstairs after living down in our sons room and using the kids bathroom (it was so gross, hence I didn't clean it as i knew it was being demolished, is that bad?) and wow, it was such an amazing feeling to use our new bathroom for the first time. It truly felt like we were at a hotel! I can't wait to style it properly. I moved our Al.ive Body duo pack into the bathroom and our Miss April Bathrooms in straight away, but still need some greenery, a laundry basket, bathroom mats and a few more bathroom towels I think!
We are now onto stage two which is the kids bathroom and our laundry. So stay tuned for the next reveal. I think I am going to miss my 7.30am wake up calls by a new tradie each morning! Or maybe not!