Master Bathroom Renovation

from this to this then this

Hands-down, this is the most ambitious project that Susan and I have ever taken on!  It’s the first project that we decided to tackle in our new house.  We moved here in October 2017 after realizing that we were more about the ‘Urban Life’ and less about the ‘Lake Life.’  Our lake house sold very quickly, and we were back in the city before we knew it!  The real estate market is red hot here in Charlotte, so it took us some time to find this house.  But once we did, we wasted no time diving right into projects.  🙂  This house was built in 1952, and has been partially updated, but there are PLENTY of projects and renovations left for us to leave our mark.

The house has 2 bathrooms, neither of which had been renovated, so it was apparent what our first project had to be.  The original master bathroom was very small, with a single sink, toilet & single shower.  Fortunately, there were 2 closets that butted up to the bathroom, so we knew if we tore down walls, we could essentially double the size of the MBR.  Here’s a picture that shows where we acquired the space, and another that shows the ‘future’ floor plan after the renovations.


MBR layout

I’m not exactly sure why, but 1950’s bathrooms were built like bomb shelters!!  Seriously.  Demolition almost killed us.  As you can see in the ‘before’ pics below, the majority of the walls were tiled.  And behind that tile was 3-4″ of mortar and metal lathe.

I started the demolition on November 4th (the day after Susan’s deviated septum surgery).  At first, I was using a combination of a grinder with a diamond-blade wheel, a pry bar & a sledge hammer.  I wasn’t making very fast progress and getting pretty frustrated when Susan came to my rescue.  She saw me struggling and not being very effective, and said “I’ll be right back.”  She came back about 30 minutes later with a rented demolition hammer from Home Depot.  Holy crap that thing was HEAVY!  But effective.  Very, very effective… as demonstrated in this time lapse video.  🙂

I’m not gonna lie, demolition kinda sucked.  It was very dirty, dusty, heavy work… we planned to use a Bagster for the debris, and actually ended up filling (overfilling!) 2 Bagsters.  Lots and lots of debris!!

But once we were done, it was pretty cool to see our new ‘blank canvas.’  At this point, we brought in a professional plumber to re-route all the plumbing for us.  This was not something that we felt comfortable taking on ourselves.  Our plumber moved the drain pipe for the toilet, re-routed the sink drain and piping for the new double vanity & re-routed the shower plumbing to the new location with double shower heads.  At this point, we also had our Electrician put in some can lights, an exhaust fan & wire for pendant lights above the future vanity.

Once this was finished, our first task was to level the floors.  The subfloor heights were different between the ‘old’ closet areas and the bathroom area.  We also trued up the wall studs to make sure that our new walls would be square and true.  We moved the entryway over about 4′ to center the door on the future vanity.  Once all this ‘shoring up’ work was done, we could start the fun part – REBUILDING!  🙂

Insulation went in first, and then drywall… installing the sheets of drywall on the ceiling was MURDER.  There may or may not have been a couple complete meltdowns during this phase.  :-/  Look at the first sheet that we installed – it looks like we used it for target practice!!


Luckily, we got much, much better with practice.  And, shockingly, we even did a halfway decent job taping and mudding.

Shower walls were next.  For the shower, we went with a shower pan base for the ease of installation, but mainly for the ease of cleaning.  Nothing is worse than cleaning grout joints at the base of a shower!

Now that the walls were done, our next task was tiling.  It’s an incredibly rare occurrence here in Charlotte to have a day with temps below freezing.  So naturally, we were tiling and using the wet saw on a day that was about 25 degrees.  SMH


It was all worth it, though, as the tile came out great!


Once the tile was installed and grouted, all that was left to do was install the toilet, vanity, mirror, sliding shower doors, plumbing fixtures & pendant lights.  Wow – it was so EASY to type those words, but so HARD to actually finish it all!  LOL  But eventually, we did get it all completed.  From start to finish, this was a 4 month project for us.


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