Installing the Bathroom Sink, Faucet, and Bathroom Accessories

So, it’s the first week of January 2018. My bathroom is finally functional again now that it’s painted, tiled, and the toilet’s installed. My sister moves in and it’s time to hop on to the final task for a functional bathroom: installing the sink!

I’d originally ordered a pretty pedestal sink for my bathroom, but I realized that the pedestal would take up precious floor space. Floor space I needed for storage. In particular, toilet paper storage. So, I returned my original sink and ordered a new wall mounted sink. Now, because the walls weren’t tiled in here, I wanted a wall mounted sink with a little bit of a backsplash. The sink had to be pretty small in size too, in order to meet code requirements and for ease of access to the room. The sink is immediately to the left inside the bathroom, right beside the door, and there’s only about 14″ depth available before the sink is sticking out. I couldn’t move the sink over closer to the toilet because code requires 15″ from the center of the toilet to any other element. It was a tight fit! I ended up landing on the Kohler Greenich Sink because it fit both my constraints.

The sink arrived the week Bronwyn moved in. So technically she lived in my house without a bathroom sink for at least a couple of days. But really, we didn’t have a kitchen either, so the sinkless bathroom was a total luxury. When it finally was in hand, I didn’t waste a second getting it installed though! After measuring my locations I marked out where my brackets needed to go, checked for level, and predrilled holes for the bracket bolts into the plywood backing behind the drywall.

I dryfit my brackets and checked again for level before tightening them fully.

The brackets were easily secured to the wall with the bolts into the predrilled holes and just needed to be hand-tightened a wrench. Try to ignore the big empty space above where the medicine cabinet is supposed to go! Not sure why that hammer was balancing all precariously there either…

Once the brackets were tightened it was time to place the sink on top. I gently lifted it on making sure to aim so the brackets caught.

Since the brackets still allowed for the sink to move side to side I took out my measuring tape again and confirmed the distance from the center of the toilet.. I needed that to be 15″ in order to pass my plumbing inspection and I was not about to fail another inspection! Once my sink location was perfected, I could screw in two more bolts to the bottom of the sink that would prevent it from sliding to one side or the other. I didn’t want to do that though, because 15″ from the center of my toilet had my sink about 2″ off center from my vanity. I’d known this going in and after the inspection, wanted to be able to slide the sink over slightly to get things lined up. So I left off those two bolts for the time being.

I did however confirm the sink was level and my bracket alignment correct. Everything was looking good, so it was time to install that faucet next!

Then I opened up my new faucet from Delta’s Cassidy Collection and started putting together the handles. They have handle options and I picked the cross handle option since I think it looks the most traditional. It was fairly easy to just follow the included directions and tools to put these together and install the set screw to secure handles. Again, I’m constantly surprised by how easy it is to DIY things around my home. I can do this, you can do this, your little brother can do this! It just takes a little patience and the right tools.

Once that was done, I placed the faucet on the sink and hooked up the handles to it. Then I moved on to the drain, placing a ring of caulking around the piece that sits into the sink to prevent water from leaking out.

The sink itself also got a bit of caulk to make sure things fit together tightly.

I was heavily supervised during this activity by Queen Malary who periodically checked in to make sure a) I was doing things correctly, b) knew she existed, and c) knew that it was dinner time.

The drain is also secured to the bottom of the sink with a plumbing washer with a tube extension, so with the caulk too, it was very tight. I used a couple of large plumbing wrenches to make sure it was water-tight!

The drain stopper is kinda annoying to hook into the drain stopper lifter, but with a little finagling of all the different parts and tubing below the sink, I got it to lift smoothly and straight.

Then it was time to see how thing were working! I hooked up the water lines and removed the faucet’s aerator (the little bit that makes the water come out less splashy) to test the water lines. You want to remove the aerator first so any sediment in the new plumbing lines can be flushed out and not clog up the aerator.

I hadn’t installed the P-trap yet, so I just stuck a bucket below the drain for the sink to drain into. I wanted to make sure this was working correctly before I put more things in my way down there!

The faucet was working great and after a few minutes (and an almost full bucket of water!), I wasn’t seeing any sediment, so I went ahead and used the little included tool to reinstall the aerator before moving on to the final step!

The P-trap came together easily. I bought a chrome metal P-trap kit and extension tube from Home Depot. It included everything I needed plus a nice little pictogram with instructions. I spray painted the plumbing parts matte black to match the water shut off valve flanges and cut the extension tube to the right length for my sink. Then it was just a matter of placing the included rubber gaskets between the different components and tightening the washer joints.

Wah-lah! A working bathroom sink! Who’s fancy now?!

Before the night was over though, I wanted to finish up installing the other accessories I’d bought from Delta. I’d gotten a toilet paper holder from the Cassidy collection and a hand towel ring from the Victorian collection (I switched to the Victorian because I liked the detailing better).

I realized when I went to install the toilet paper holder that there was a finish discrepancy. It was slighly shinier than the other Champagne Bronze pieces. It was subtle, but definitely different. I thought maybe it was accidentally mislabeled and actually a polished brass piece. I snapped the quick pic below and sent to the Delta rep who’d helped me with my purchases and they quickly replied that I could have another piece for free. In the mean time, though I realized a toilet paper holder wasn’t actually going to fit in here… Whoops! So I asked for a towel bar instead.

The towel bar arrived promptly after and looked just like the tissue paper holder for some reason! I wondered if they were made in a different factory from the faucet and showerhead and toilet lever or something. I just wanted a functional bathroom though, so I didn’t bother telling Delta this was shinier as well, and installed it. Now it’s installed I can’t even tell the difference.

Installation was simple for the towel bar too since it came with a template! Tape template to wall, drill holes where marked, install brackets, slip towel bar over brackets, install set screw!

The plumbing had installed the showerhead for me when we passed final inspection so that had been complete for a long while and was off my plate. One less thing to do is always good in my mind!

Overall, these pieces were where the majority of the bathroom cost came in. I’d managed to make affordable selections everywhere else and splurged a little here. It became even more of a splurge when I picked the champagne bronze finish, but I really wanted the fixtures to feel more old world and aligned with the period of the house. Boy was I pleased with the end result too!

Total bathroom plumbing fixtures and accessories: $714

The bathroom’s come a LONG way from the magenta madness that was going on when I bought Berrybrier!

Boy I feel dirty just looking at that bathroom. Gross!

Have you worked on any plumping projects recently? Were you pleasantly surprised by how doable it was? It’s always nice to know you can do things like installing a sink or fixing a sewer line and don’t need to hire an expensive plumber to figure it out!

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A Scary Night and My New Emergency Backpack

So in a very dark irony to this recent post title about updating my electrical at Berrybrier, my neighbor’s house caught on fire in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. We still don’t know the cause of the fire, but it was an extremely terrifying experience and definitely had some lingering effects on me…

I’d gone to bed around 10pm that night and fell asleep quickly as after work, I’d spent all evening cutting beadboard for my master bathroom in the driveway. Around 1:30am I rolled over in my sleep and gained just enough consciousness to realize it was raining. The raindrops were relatively persistent. This actually made me wake up even more as I’d left some beadboard in the driveway and the rain could seriously ruin the MDF. Ugh! I was annoyed at myself for not putting it away like I knew I should have, but it wasn’t actually supposed to rain! These thoughts of frustration woke me up further and I could tell through closed eyes that the room was pretty light out so it must be morning. At the same time I realized the sound I was hearing wasn’t quite raindrops. I opened my eyes.

My entire room was lit up red orange. I thought the wood I left in the driveway had caught fire and then caught my house or the garage. I didn’t know how that was possible, but it was my first thought. As i bounded over the pile of tools I’d left next to my bed, I could hear movement above me, which meant Jackie my roommate was awake too. By the time I’d clambered over my bed and over the pile of tools, grabbing some PJ pants and a bathrobe, I could see properly out my bedroom window that it wasn’t my house at all, but the neighbor’s house kitty corner behind us. And the flames were already 30 feet high.

I sprinted out of my room throwing on clothes along the way and shouted “Jackie!” She responded immediately, “I know! I’m on the phone with 911, I’ll get Bronwyn!” I was grabbing shoes at that point and ran for the backdoor, “Good! I bet someone’s already done that! I’m getting the hose!” Jackie knew better, her conversation describing the fire and location of it with the 911 operator wasn’t going well. “I don’t know what the street name is! It’s the street behind ours! If you come to us you’ll see the fire!” “Your location information isn’t helpful.” “I know! But that’s all I’ve got!”

Meanwhile I grabbed the hose from the front yard and sprinted through the brambles in my backyard to the far corner. The house from my perspective was hidden by 30 foot flames which were sneaking around the corner of the house towards a shed which was next to the fence line that backed on to my neighbor Erik’s property which also had a shed: squished on to the 12′ of space between the fence line and his garage full of 12 years of wood he’s collected from job sites. Erik and I shared a fence and that fence continued along the side of my garage. As I sprayed the corner of the fence line, I hoped my soaking would delay the violent, crackling flames by seconds, maybe a minute. I knew that if the fire continued to lick the side of their house and caught their shed, the whole fence line could go up, catching an exponential number of other things on fire.

As I soaked the corner of the fences, Jackie grabbed Bronwyn from her room and they both ran out of the house. Jackie grabbed some water bottles, asked Bronwyn to check on me, and walked briskly around the corner to the street behind ours. It wasn’t until Bronwyn was out of the house that she knew what was going on. The thirty foot flames were obvious from the front steps, whereas her street facing window hadn’t provided any context to the house behind ours. Jackie reached the neighbor’s street and thankfully they were all out of the house!

Bronwyn came to make sure I was a safe distance from the fire (which I was). Then she headed to Erik’s house which he rents to three young people, one of whom is our second cousin. No one appeared to be awake and if the fire caught the shed and fence line, Erik’s house wouldn’t be around for long. She pounded on their door, but no one answered. She quickly realized the front door was actually unlocked. She ran inside and up the stairs to pound on the bedroom doors, but still got no answer. Finally she screamed out our cousin’s name, “Carla!” And the three housemates woke up and realized someone wasn’t just messing around. Bronwyn got them all out of the house and that’s when the fire department arrived.

The fire department simultaneously arrived on both the street of our neighbor’s house and our street. Jackie met the first firefighter on the neighbor’s street and let him know the family was out of the house. They sent several fire fighters through the front gate to assess the fire. I was standing holding my hose by the fence when the first firefighters came through the neighbor’s yard. One of them yelled “Holy F***! That’s hot!” which was not exactly reassuring. The firefighters on our street thought the fire was at Erik’s house and started unloading ladders. Bronwyn was coming out of Erik’s house at this point and directed them to the 30 foot flames behind Erik’s house. They asked her to open his gate (she knew the padlock code) and she led them (and their hoses) around Erik’s house to the backyard where they sawzall’ed down the back fence between Erik’s property and our neighbor’s and opened up streams of water on the fire.

They arrived as the flames began licking at the shed and quickly forced the fire back. I turned off my hose and walked back to our house where I ran into Jackie who told me the neighbors were all safe. Thank goodness! There were four firetrucks on our street at this point and the firefighters directed the kids who live in Erik’s house to stand in front of our house as “people who are standing in front of their houses when they catch fire have a tendency to go back inside to get something.” They also told us to get any pets out of our house and to wait outside.

The firefighters arrived within 3-5 minutes of Jackie’s 1:38am call with seven total firetrucks and at least 30 firefighters. They had the fire under control within minutes of arriving, though it took them several hours to get out all embers and call it a night. I was extremely impressed by their response time and quick action against the fire. We were able to return to our house around 3:30am and Jackie, Carla, Bronwyn, and I sat upstairs in Jackie’s bed watching the firefighters walk the neighbors property, roofline, and house checking for hidden embers. We were completely hyped up on adrenaline. By 4:30am though, we called it a night and set up a bed for Carla on our living room sofa. We just wanted to all be together. The firefighters finished their work around the house by about 5am and most of the firefighters left before that.

The devastation of the house is obviously apparent, but more importantly, no one was hurt in the fire. The experience is one I hope to never go through again and I cannot even imagine what the family underwent. Thanks to a recent permit finalizing of the dormer, I had freshly installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout all three levels of Berrybrier. I feel good about that and I know the house is a lot safer now that the electrical is updated. I learned later that you typically only have 2 minutes to evacuate in house fires since homes are so flammable. This makes me want to run fire drills!

But, I wanted something else, something I could grab in an emergency when the fire department tells me to grab my pets and clear my house.  I know I should also put together a supply of emergency water in the basement soon too (we have plenty of food that could be eaten in an emergency) in case of an earthquake type emergency. My 13 years of girl scouting has taught me to be prepared if nothing else! My friend Claudia had an emergency backpack in college and I decided to make my own.

This is a just in case backpack, I hope to never need to grab. Ironically I’d donated an extra backpack I had lying around a few days before the fire, so I ended up buying a new backpack at the Columbia Employee Store. This one has a much larger capacity though, so that’s probably worth the $25. Online, they don’t have the moss + red colorway I bought and it costs a bit more that I paid, but it’s a great 25L bag! Inside the backpack I placed supplies in three categories: personal supplies, first aid, important documents, survival goods.

Here’s broken down lists of what I included as well!

Personal Supplies:

  • Shirt
  • Leggings
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sandals
  • Sweatshirt
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Contact Solution and Case
  • Bar of Soap

First Aid:

  • Antibacterial / Itch / Pain Ointment
  • Bandaides
  • Roll of Gauze
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ace Bandage

Important Documents:

  • Printed PDF copies of my important / identification documents

Survival Goods:

  • Protein Bars
  • Two 2 Liter Bottles of Water
  • Matches
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Fleece Blanket

Can you believe I managed to squeeze that all into a $25 backpack? I was impressed too! Now this bag lives where I can easily grab it while running out of the house and gives me a bit more peace of mind. What’s been your experience with emergency situations? Did it encourage you to get more prepared?

Have you ever had a run in with a fire? Or know someone who’s house caught? What was the cause? What did you do to make yourself feel better about it afterwards? Did you put together an emergency plan? Am I overthinking this?! Let me know in the comments below!

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be…

…I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you one who’s still exhausted. Or at least I used to be, today, I’m sharing the change that has made my mornings so much better, happier, and most of all, brighter!! It’s a simple switch that’s made me feel so much better rested.

Also thank you to the Proclaimers for lending me some lyrics to butcher. Who doesn’t love this song? Some of the funniest How I Met Your Mother episodes featured this song as the only one that plays on the stuck tape in Marshall’s college car stereo. Anyone else remember that hilarity?

Back to waking up in the mornings though: I’ve really been struggling in the last few years to get out of bed in winters when it’s still dark and cold out. This is a stark contrast, a big change for me, because previously, I would jump out of bed the second my alarm went off. I despised snoozers and prided myself on my “skill” of waking up immediately. Then something changed. I am now a snoozer. I’m a wake-up-and-reset-alarm-er. I’m a dragged-myself-out-of-bed-and-barely-made-it-to-the-bus-in-time-er. It’s unfortunate and it needed to change. I’m not sure how or when I first heard of the wake-up-light alarm clocks, but I knew about them somehow and about 2 months ago I started looking into purchasing one.

I ended up finding this one from Philips, which at almost $90 isn’t exactly inexpensive. I hate spending that kind of cash on purchases where I’m not certain of the results, so instead of clicking “buy” myself, I forwarded the link to my mother with the not so subtle hint that this would make a perfect Christmas present. She took the hint and this was the first gift I opened on Christmas morning. Well, the pictures on Amazon don’t do it justice! This alarm clock is actually quite stylish!

Phillips Wake Up Light Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

So how has it changed my life? In so many ways! Let me break it down for you. This type of alarm clock is really cool! And no, this isn’t a sponsered post, I’m just excited to tell you about it! Seriously, I really can’t shut up about this alarm clock. I’ve been telling all my friends and co-workers all about it!

It’s super easy to use and highly customizable. You set you alarm for the next morning and then 30 mins before the alarm goes off, the light inside turns on to a dim setting and slowly gets brighter and brighter over the next half hour. This is supposed to help simulate a sunrise which can tell your body’s circadian rhythm it’s time to get up! Then the alarm itself has a couple of different settings. You can wake up to an am/fm radio station or to one of the two pre-set alarms: bird song or jungle noises. I’ve been waking up to the bird song and it is amazing! This alarm clock is life changing. In the mornings, I tend to hover in a semi-conscious state for a minute and I can hear the bird song. Without fail, each morning, I think to myself how nice it is that the birds are singing. A minute later, my brain registers that this is my alarm and I open my eyes. The light really helps remind my body that it is indeed time to wake up each morning. I am never jolted out of REM cycle like I was previously. Instead, I feel like my body slowly wakes up over that half hour allowing me to feel much more awake when the alarm truly does go off.

Phillips Wake Up Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

The alarm itself is pretty simple and well designed. It’s definitely not an ugly bedside alarm clock. It feels just about as stylish as an electronic devise can be. It’s light weight and clean lined. You can adjust the settings on the alarm to make the time show brighter or dimmer. I have chosen a dimmer setting so it doesn’t glare at me while I sleep. The light on the alarm itself can also be dimmer or brighter and you can decide the volume of the alarm as well. It’s these little adjustments which make it so easy to personalize. For instance, I have the light on my alarm maxed out so it is as bright as possible when it’s time for me to wake up, but since I’m more sensitive to sounds, I keep my sound setting pretty low. You can also chose to use the light just by itself, which I do on occasion since my new bed hasn’t been built yet (gotta get on that already!), and the alarm is easier to reach that the higher up lamp switch.

Philips Wake Up Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

Over all, this alarm, I can truly say, has been life-changing. I feel a million times better in the mornings when it’s time for me to get out of bed. I know longer feel the need to push snooze, nor do I feel like I’ve been jolted from my sleep. Having an alarm clock again after eight years of using my phone as an alarm also has the added bonus of preventing me from picking up my phone first thing in the morning. This means it’s a lot easier to resist scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or reading the news and gets me into my morning routine sooner so I’m not in a rush!

This may seem like a small thing, but the more I realize how deeply addicted I am to my phone and all the social media platforms it holds, the more I’d like to take time away from that technology. It’s one of the reasons I love to camp and get away from my phone. Somehow, it’s miraculously freeing to step away from technology and all the entrapments it holds. Not being connected is an amazing thing in this wi-fi enabled world and getting out of the routine of checking in on Facebook, Instagram, and Apple News first thing each morning is a relief. Now I peruse these things on the bus to work, when I’m not in a rush to get out of the house. It’s a minor difference in terms of timing, but a significant difference in how I wake up and start my day.

So to anyone out there who struggles to get out of bed or loves their snooze button, I highly recommend the Philips Wake-Up Light with Sunrise Simulation. It is going to significantly impact the start of your day in the most positive of ways! Starting off the New Year with this new way to start my days has been a great game changer for me and my life.

Do you have one of these, from Philips or another brand, at home already? Let me know your thoughts! Do you love it as much as I do? Because I think I might just marry this alarm clock I love it so much!

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