One Room Challenge: Week Two – Electrical & Drywall

I’m chugging right along with my tiny Master Bathroom renovation. You can check out my plan for the space on the Week One post for my One Room Challenge. One of the first things I needed to do in this space was to actually finish demolishing the homasote that covered the right wall.

Demo is something that is just so satisfying! A few quick hours and you can completely transform the space, every swing of your hammer is progress. So quickly a space can go from this lovely little 70s space…

…to this hot mess. And then you have to clean it all up. Whomp, whomp, whomp. And this stuff gets heavy too! Make sure to use contractors bags rather than normal trash bags since they’re so much stronger and don’t get ruined by the rogue nail! I probably should have removed the plumbing in the bathroom before doing this, but I was hoping to maintain the basic function of this room as long as possible.

It resulted in a whole lot of crazy, but demo’ing this wall allowed me to get a good look at the electrical situation that was going behind it. This house (like most older homes) has a whole lot of secrets hidden in it’s walls. When I opened this space up, I was able to see the new electrical my electricians had installed in the house back in October 2017 and where they’d tied in some older electrical to the new lines. It also exposed some of the willy nilly “structural” supports that were added when some previous owner decided to bump the wall out to fit in the old bathtub in the main bathroom. You can also see the new framing I added to support the original wall location and the backside of my new shower surround.

Once I got my eyes on the electrical I was able to figure out what was going on and replace the existing older wires with new in the locations I wanted. I’d gotten two free light fixtures from my Aunt Stephanie who’s neighbor was replacing some newly installed fixtures after buying their house. Since the original light in this room was above the door, once I’d removed the homasote walls, I could just pull that wire over to the location I wanted my new fixtures. I planned for two sconce fixtures in the space to wash the room with light. Then I could install my medicine cabinet beneath one and a framed picture beneath the other. I also moved an outlet to be next to the light switch for convenience. For the most part, this wiring was already in the walls, I just shifted the locations and switched out any really old wires for new.

Once I’d measured where my new sconces should be I nailed up a horizontal board to hang the far sconce off of and wired up the second sconce to the first.

Simple! Since I needed light to work by in the evenings, I ended up wiring the last sconce in and then hanging it from the grounding wire. Which is probably not the safest idea, but it was very effective and approved by my contractor neighbor. I also had him double check that the electrical all made sense and I wasn’t going to kill myself or burn my house down. He said it looked good, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m super nervous about fires now, so it’s nice to have a second pair of eyes. Thanks, Erik!

Then it was time to stuff the wall full of insulation to create more of a sound barrier between the two bathrooms and to keep the bathroom off the kitchen warmer. I just filled in the space and stuffed it all behind the wiring, I tried to make sure it was less compressed than in this picture before I closed up the wall with drywall! Mostly I wanted to keep that main bathroom nice and toasty.

You may have noticed this old fuse box in the picture above. It was the reason the old wall was bumped out only in the lower portion! See how the right wall recesses at the very top in this picture from when I first got the house? The shadow kind of gives it away. I guess the old owners didn’t want to mess with it. I wonder if they put plants or anything on that ledge? That would almost make sense… except the bathroom has a north facing window about 20′ from my neighbors house so it gets no light…. Hmmm… so many questions!!

And even after I had my electricians rewire the main bathroom and tweak this box, it still looked like a mess! The fuses are misleading though, my electricians had switched the wiring to hook into my new circuit breaker, but left these fuses in place… connected to nothing. They used this box as a place to tie all of their wiring together. Which mean it would need to be accessible still. Since one of my sconces was right next to it, I knew that a simple double outlet cover plate would be pretty hidden and allow enough access to this spot. Doesn’t the old wiring look super weird though… I was told it’s not knob and tube, just old.

I knew having an outlet would next to the light switch would be a lot easier to access and prevent me from having to make even more cuts into my beadboard, so I moved it up and placed it right where I wanted it in a new electrical box. Now when I blew dry my hair (which is never) or straightened my hair (once every two years) I’d be prepared! Seriously though… what else do people use bathroom outlets for? Electric toothbrushes?

And finally, it was time for drywall! I bought one sheet of drywall for $15 from Home Depot for this project. I knew it would take care of this wall and I could use scraps from the bathroom and the kitchen to cover up the wall with the door. You can also see here where the old wall was when I bought the house, with the top of the wall niched back. Such an odd arrangement. I filled in a little bit of plaster to help even out the back wall here. Since I was covering everything up with beadboard, I knew exacts didn’t much matter.

And thank god for beadboard, because trying to smooth out all these drywall pieces patched together would have been no fun at all!

Meanwhile, that wasn’t the only thing that needed to be patched either! The former space in the bumped out wall had holes in the floor as well as in the old wall where the plumbing for the original bathtub from the other bathroom had been. I patched these in the same way I patched in the floor in the main bathroom using scrap wood and some clamps. You can also see where I’d slapped a coat of primer on the subfloor after removing most of the peel and stick tiles at one point. It was so much “nicer” this way. Hahaha! Since the peel and stick tiles were coming off and sliding around anyways, there was all sorts of gunk beneath them. Covering it all up with concrete board and tile was going to be amazing!

Now, I can’t say this space was looking a whole lot better yet. But progress is progress, and the middle makes no sense! At least I had the lighting in and the space was suddenly bright and ready for the big transformative touches! I still needed to remove the sink and address the left wall, but everything else was ready for beadboard!

So Week Two is now wrapped up and it’s now on to tiling for Week Three! It’s my second tiling project after the main bathroom, so fingers crossed all goes well. I have just baaaaarely enough tile left over from my parents’ bathroom renovation to complete the floors in here! Soon this little room is going to be looking completely different from when I bought the house. Hopefully, more authentic feeling with more storage and function and much, much prettier to boot!

Boy will I be excited when this is finally done! It’s a pain storing all my bathroom stuff in my bedroom and to encapsulate all the old gross with clean and new is going to feel so amazing.

Definitely check out some of the other participants in the One Room Challenge. There’s a ton of amazing talent out there, it’s so fun to join in for the first time!

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Demo Day! Goodbye Bathroom!

We demo’ed the bathroom! It’s all gone now. Actually it’s been all gone for many months and I’ve just been too busy putting it back together to actually blog about it. 🤣 Anyways, I thought I’d give you the run down of the demo days and some excellent after pictures… of my filthy demo face. Overall this was my second time demo’ing a bathroom and I have to say it went vastly better than the previous time as I did not end up in the hospital with a cornea infection. Yup. That happened a few years ago when I helped demo my parents master bathroom and it hurt like a motherf***er! But that was last time and this is this time. Let’s concentrate on Berrybrier today!

Let’s start with how the bathroom started out. Do you remember this magenta madness? The bump out above the mirror floated there like an overly long soffit that just might fall off while you were on the toilet. There were only about 12″ between the sink and the corner of the tub for you to slink by to get to the toilet. The shower head was not operational, but someone had used it previously which is why everything was rotting. Everything was filthy. I can’t even talk about the floors, but I will say someone decided to wrap the flooring vinyl up onto a teensy counter by the sink. That tub was amazingly comfortable and taking baths is my favorite, but this tub was ginormous. WAY too big for such a tiny bathroom.

Demo day got off to a slow start as I was exhausted and slept until 8am; which isn’t really even that late honestly. My mother was still staying here and she had planned to have a visit with our cousin Mary that am. So I slithered out of bed half comatose and made myself some toast and jam and was munching away on that sitting in my bathrobe when Mary arrived. Let me clarify: Mary arrived in work clothes ready to help with demo. Somehow my mom had missed that memo and here I was totally unprepared to start with lots of helping hands. Ofph! 🤭

Once the confusion was sorted out, I threw on some proper clothes and we got to work. First we removed the mirror on the back wall and Mary and my mom tackled the weird wooden tub surround.

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They were removing the decorative molding and flat panels so we could see properly what was going on beneath it. We’d already drilled enough holes in it to know that it was not a clawfoot. Cue the ugly crying. But! This worked out because knowing it was a clawfoot would have caused me to try and save it and this bathroom is just WAY TOO SMALL for a bathtub that large.

Underneath, you can see this tub was barely supported from the upper lib, nothing was supporting it below. We eventually wedged a furniture dolly beneath it in hopes we’d later be able to roll it out of the bathroom that way.

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After that, we moved on to tackling the removal of the sink and toilet. Since none of the water shut off valves in the bathroom actually functioned, this involves turning off the water at the main. Eek! Which in turn meant my house no longer had a functioning shower or a bathroom or even running water in the kitchen. Yay! Also… I had to google how to remove a toilet. Thank god for the internet, it’s basically teaching me everything these days.

The more we removed, the more we found, like this cute swans wallpaper!

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At this point, things were looking… better?

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Seems like a good time for a simple, easy task like removing the little corner Ikea cabinet, right? Well, that came down quick, but we also discovered some gnarly mildew behind the Ikea cabinet! At this point, Mary had to leave, which was extremely understandable. Ha!

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After Mary was on her way, it was time to turn our attention to the elephant in the room: the overly large (but extremely comfortable) bathtub. In order to move that tub anywhere, I had to disconnect the plumbing. Well… the pipes I needed access to were in the wall, so I had to do a little demo in the half bathroom as well! I removed the faux wood paneling from two of the bathroom walls with a mini crowbar and hammer in less than 15 minutes and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer hole already cut into the wall! This is probably why that paneling went up!

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I made the hole bigger with my hammer, grabbed a metal blade for the sawzall, and started cutting. Bing, bang, boom and the tub was no longer connected to the house! Yes that is the toilet in the foreground of the picture below. The half bath is VERY TINY. It’s basically a quarter bath, but don’t that to him, he’ll get all offended.

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Once it was disconnected, it was time to try to get this tub out of the bathroom! With enough prying of the tub with a spare 2×4 we were able to raise the tub high enough off the supports to get the furniture dolly wedged nearly all the way under the tub. Once that was done we were able to a remove the rest of the rotting wood surround and supports and the bathtub was freed! I know this is a terrible photo below, but you get the idea.

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We wheeled the bathtub out of the bathroom, taking out the door frame in the process and left it in the kitchen, because that was as far as two people could move it alone. Now that bathtub stayed in my kitchen until early February when my Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Mike came to visit and helped me conquer a few tasks around the house. The two of them, plus my sister and I were finally able to move it out of the house lifting together! But don’t let me get distracted, back to demo day 1: after the tub was out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, though, it was time to go to sleep. We were exhausted.

The next day was lathe and plaster demo day! We spent the entire Sunday taking out as much of the lathe and plaster as possible. It was crazy town and filled the floor with debris. We filled 7 contractor bags full of lathe and plaster from this little room, despite me keeping a ton of the longer pieces of lathe!

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Seriously, you think that it’s a small room, but oh. my. god. The whole room was 2 feet under lathe and plaster. We filled SO MANY BAGS! All stuffed and weighing a bazillion pounds, full of lathe and plaster!

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Once the lathe came down, we found some not so great things, like exposed knob and tube wiring. And knob and tube wiring that just ended in the plaster after someone removed some sconces… Yeah, not good. Luckily, electricians were scheduled for just a few days later!

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Once the floors were swept clean of all the debris and the little discoveries were made, we were even more tired than the night before and we were absolutely filthy. Oh, and my mom was so ready to fly home he next day to her comfortable bed and house that requires no demo. She was ready to relax!

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I was also filthy, but very much excited for the projects ahead! I knew that this was a huge step, but a super exciting one because soon I’d have a fully functional bathroom and it was going to be so freaking pretty!

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Of course… finishing that bathroom took me about 2 months longer than I thought it would and in my incessant push to finish, I neglected this blog. But don’t worry, y’all. I still took pictures and am here to overshare.

Let there be light!

Happy autumn, ya’ll! The recent turning of weather is making me nauseous as I try to figure out how to schedule the exterior painting of my house and finishing up the dormer. So much to do! So little time! Seriously, I’m not ready for winter! I’m still hoping to break out those breezy summer dresses and dig up bricks to lay out a patio in my backyard. BUT, reality sinks in and I realize a lot will need to wait until next spring. The exterior paint, however, needs to get a move on!

While I’m waiting on things the professionals have to take on, I have to keep busy myself. I’ve been working trying to refinish my kitchen floors which is taking about 53 times longer than I anticipated. So this past weekend I looked for a new project. Something quick and dirty I could knock out and actually finish. I turned again to the back of the house but didn’t make it quite so far as the yard.

That horrific deck and the roof covering it? It was coming down! Remember how bad it was? It was a deathtrap waiting to happen! Those stairs ended 4″ from the corner of the garage. Now, luckily, the actual deck roof (can we even classify that monstrosity as a roof?) had come down during the first two weeks I owned Berrybrier. It was a wonderful surprise when I came home from work to see my cousins, John and Carla, and my parents, John and Kate happy in the backyard having spend a couple hours that afternoon demoing the deck roof. They’d knocked it out and boy was it a huge change! It not only looked a thousand times better, but the amount of light that suddenly flooded the kitchen was the best part!


Yes that is a new-to-me stove as well (bought it from the neighbors who are also renovating!). Before the kitchen was so dark since the two windows were under the makeshift roof! Plus that wallpaper doesn’t help. Good thing that’s gone now too! (Add re-drywalling the kitchen to my to-do list as well…)


So when this past weekend came around, I said to my mother, “You know what would be super fun? Taking down the deck!” My mother had her doubts, she was nervous we wouldn’t like what we found. But I had a good feeling about this one. The home inspection report had called out the presence of concrete steps under the deck and a few sessions with a good flashlight and a long stick had given me the impression the steps were in good shape. Plus anything would be better than this, right?

I even convinced my mother a few weeks earlier to sawzall off a board on one side to get better access to the steps in order to take a closer look and sweep a bit with a broom. This proved the steps were in great shape to me, but my mother still had her doubts. I finally convinced her I could just pull off one board from the top and we could get a good look at things there.

Once you pull off one, what’s the harm in another? Or so I convinced my mother… and slowly, but surely we got all the deck boards pried off that first day. Now it would have been a lot easier if we could have used  power tools like a sawzall, but the roofers were over and the electrical on this house isn’t a fan of power tools, let alone multiple power tools. So we worked by hand using hammers and crowbars. (And luckily the electrical is getting updated at the end of the month!) Slowly, but surely, we made progress!

Whew! Easier said than done. The work wasn’t that hard, but between the roofers air compressor and staple/nail guns and the sounds of our own hammers hitting the metal of the crowbars I got a powerful headache and my ears wouldn’t stop ringing. We took a break and I picked up some protective ear muffs at Ace Hardware before heading home. Hallelujah! They are my new favorite protective gear, even beating out hazmat suits!

Boy was it looking a million times better that first day and boy did we learn a lot! That deck, as it turns out, was not in as good of shape as I thought. Sitting on the concrete steps, moisture had filled the wood and when we pressed into it, water would actually squeeze out. It had caused the wood to rot significantly more than I anticipated. Beneath the steps, years of walking over and dust and debris had created mounds of compost that covered the concrete. Actual, really nice compost. We tossed it straight into the garden!

The next morning, my mom broke out her favorite tool: the sawzall and took off the sides of the deck. A few quick bangs with a sledgehammer and everything else was loose. Then it saw just back to the crowbar to remove a few pieces off the house and there they were: the original concrete steps!

The cute star gate used to be in function here, blocking off the backyard from the driveway. You can see the hole in the concrete next to it where the fence post used to be. I am in love with how much better this looks! The kitchen is flooded with light and now you can actually walk between the garage and the house! The best thing though? Not being directed down the stairs and into the corner of the garage! Now the flow from the house is so much more open! It allows you to walk into the garden easily and walk into the house from any side. Truly, it’s a small change, but feels transformative! I mean, the house still looks like crap since it needs paint, but it’s still a big change!

Before this view was crazy! Now it at least makes more sense. A good coat of paint will be the true life saver though.

Plus, the whole project took less than 8 hours. So thank god for that! I need more projects like that and less like my endless kitchen floor rescucitation project. This project leaves me satisfied and happy! Now they stairs will definitely need some tweaking – I’m thinking of painting next spring and trying to skim coat the top stair that’s in a bit rougher shape.

But for now, hopefully the weather will hold out long enough for this house to get painted and then I can stick my red pots on these steps and then they’ll really be popping! It’s one baby step in the right direction!