Installing My New Toilet and Changing the Toilet Lever

There’s a new throne to bend the knee to in the Land of Laurel and it ain’t made of iron. That’s right! I’ve got a gorgeous porcelain throne for ya’ll to fawn over today. It’s downright spectacular. And oh so necessary. You see, back in early January 2018 I was just over 2 months in to my bathroom renovation and it was time to kick it into high gear. I had a deadline, one not set by me, one I couldn’t just ignore as it passed by, a big, important deadline. My little sister was moving into Berrybrier to live with me! Hi, Bronwyn! And well… she needed a place to relieve herself that wasn’t the tiny hell bathroom off my own bedroom. As much as that delightful little space worked for me, she was going to need a space a bit more… accommodating and far less… disgusting.

Luckily, I had a space that was pretty darn close! See the capped toilet flange below? That was my first step for getting the bathroom into more of a… useful… space. The plumber had installed it when he was doing rough in and after I’d tiled around it, and drywalled, and painted, the flange was finally ready for a toilet. The center part was just a cap that prevented the sewer gases and smells from coming into the bathroom. For which I was grateful. I popped it off with a screw driver and exposed the hole beneath.

Then I grabbed a reinforced wax ring toilet install kit from Home Depot and stuck it in the hole. The reinforced plastic part keeps it pretty centered.

Then I took the bolts that came with the kit and stuck them into the toilet flange. They slide nicely into place upside down, which is better than ones that screw into the flange from above since it’s easier to aim your toilet. I had bought the Kohler Memoirs Two Piece Toilet which is easier to install since it literally comes in two pieces. I lifted up the bottom part with the help of my friend Nikki and aimed it at my bolts and wax ring while her dog chased Malary around my house. With a little finagling we landed it just so for a perfect fit! Then I slipped the plastic covers that came with the toilet over the bolts to protect the porcelain and screwed on a nut to hold the toilet in place. I tightened the nut enough to keep everything snug and then simply sawed off the excess bolt with my hacksaw. Easy, peasy.

I snapped the bolt cap covers on and then it was time for the tank. This guy I was able to place on myself after Nikki left. It came with bolts already placed in the bottom of the tank and again I just aimed those bolts at the holes in the bottom part of the toilet. Then they got nuts which I tightened with a wrench being careful not to tighten too tightly which could break the porcelain. As I did that I stuck my level on top to make sure I was keeping things plumb.

One more check that it was level and I was ready for the fun stuff! The toilet lever that came with my toilet was already installed when I unboxed it. That’s convenient right? Wrong.

Lovely polished chrome in finish, there was nothing wrong with it, except I was using Delta’s Champagne Bronze (a brass /gold look) finish on all the other plumbing fixtures. So I popped one of Delta’s Cassidy Collection Toilet Levers into my cart and got ready to switch it out.

I also went ahead and screwed in the toilet water supply line into the tank and into my favorite water shut off valve that looks so cute coming out of the baseboard. I kept the water off still, but I wanted it to be ready to go once the lever was switched out.

Switching out the lever was also super easy. I took a short handled screw driver and just unscrewed the single machine screw that was holding it in place and popped off the lever.

The Memoirs toilet looked kinda cute all handleless and naked too! But.. that wasn’t going to stick around for long! I’d carefully noted the placement of the original nuts, washers, and other bits that came off the original toilet lever and meshed those in together with the new Delta parts.

I kept the delta parts that held the lever to the toilet themselves and screwed the original Kohler handle arm and chain into the new lever. That way the interior of the tank was mostly the same.

The Delta lever had some with a plastic handle that was supposed to replace the handle and chain, but that seemed like opening a larger can of worms than I was ready for so I just ignored that bit.

I checked several times to make sure the combination of parts together were still raising the flapper and thus “flushing” the toilet before I even considered turning on the water to this new throne!

But after it passed that test several times, I decided it was ready, got my bucket and dry towels ready and turned the water shut off valve to on. The tank and bowl began filling with water until it magically stopped at it’s capacity point. The moment of truth: would it now flush?!

Yes! It worked! And with no issues or re-dos or mishaps along the way! Turns out installing a toilet is really not as hard as what you’d think. And when everything in the bathroom is brand new and never before used, it’s not even the little bit gross!

So now I had a toilet! A whole toilet to myself! Well, for myself and my sister who moved in the very next day! Sure… we had to wash our hands in the kitchen sink until I got around to installing the bathroom sink and faucet a few days later, but eh, no big deal! Plus a functioning toilet and shower felt a thousand times better than the gross original bathroom!

In all the plumbing fixtures were one of the most expensive parts of this bathroom renovation. BY FAR. Which is to be expected since they are the fancy finished bits! Here’s the breakdown of the toilet bits and pieces:

  • Reinforced Wax Ring $8
  • Toilet Water Supply Line $6
  • Sink water Supply Lines about $20 for two lines
  • Toilet $380
  • Toilet Lever $25
  • Toilet Install Total: $439
  • Now, you could totally spend a whole lot less if you went to Home Depot and bought some cheaper fixtures, but since I was trying to restore some of the original character of Berrybrier back into this house and I wanted a specific look, I splurged a bit for pieces I liked and would like for years to come.

    If I was a better blogger I would have snapped a picture of the final toilet all installed with it’s lid on but I am not a very good blogger so I will go ahead and just give you this sneak peek. The toilet installed, complete with a few plants on top of the tank and a preview of the installed sink!

    Ohhhh progress! It feels sooo good right? Boy is it nice to have a place to shower and relieve yourself after months of a messy construction zone! I mean, the rest of Berrybrier still looked absolutely insane considering the kitchen floor disaster, but even that was looking up! My sister Bronwyn had moved in with me which meant a whole bunch of free labor. Yay! Double time progress!

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    A Bit More than Bathing in the Bathroom

    I’m struggling to write at the moment, because I just watched the Walking Dead and now I am dead inside. One of my favorite characters died and I do not know how’ll I’ll keep watching without him. What will his wife do?And Rick (my least favorite character) isn’t in a great situation either!! The Walking Dead has never hesitated to kill off the most loved characters, which makes it a fantastic, heart breaking show. Bah! I can’t be the only one near tears, right?! Who else watches this??

    Now the Walking Dead has absolutely nothing to do with today’s post. Literally nothing. Although, I do really want to go to Georgia. Wait no, that’s still sidetracking. What am I supposed to be writing about?! Oh yes… my bathroom.

    So as much as I now love my roommates, their radiant personalities did not play a huge part in me choosing to live here over some of the other places I found on Craigslist. Why did I choose this place? The bathroom. Once I walked into the bathroom, I was sold on this place. It was really the bathtub. I have great memories of my Aunt Karolyn’s clawfoot bathtub at her house in Oakland near Glenview Elementary School. Her daughters– my cousins– were about the same age as my sister and I so we would go there all the time. Even as a kid, I loved houses and design, and I freakin’ loved that bathtub. My bathroom now? Clawfoot bathtub. Entire reason I signed that lease. I mean besides the fact that the house is near BART and my roommates are normal, clean people, and our home is beautiful. Whatever. That stuff does not compare to my bathtub! This is what my bathroom looked like when I first moved in.

    Move in Bathroom

    And the the bathroom fixtures are Kohler! I love Kohler! The bathroom is all from the Kohler’s Antique Line. It’s very much a 1930’s throwback. They’re beautiful. The chrome bits on the end after the ceramic knobs were loose on a few when I moved in. I tightened them up easily by wrapping plastic wrap around some pliers. I want some rubber nose pliers, but when I asked one of the employees at Home Depot about them he looked very confused. It’s possible I made the existence of them up. Regardless, the plastic wrap worked just fine. Once I tightened them, the have not come loose again. I just love the “hot” and “cold” labels! It’s details like this that make our house so interesting. It really is a contemporary craftsman, elegantly straddling old and new design!

    Kohler Bathtub Fixture

    I’m lucky that the house is really beautiful. The craftsmanship is really well done. There was a lot of care taken when it was built 10 years ago. Anything I do to the house isn’t really changing it, but rather accentuating it. For now this blog is about taking a home from 75% to 100% done. That last 25%? All the itty bitty details. This is the storage and organizing and decorating. The things that make this place functional and beautifull! This is the part that takes the most time and can even seem unnecessary, but it really does complete the space.

    Now the bathroom vanity is gorgeous, but it doesn’t have any drawers. Just one huge open space within the cabinet isn’t all that functional and means a lot of my things needed to live on the counter. When I first moved in, things just landed where I needed them the most, without much thought into how it all looked.

    Move in Bathroom Vanity

    That means the soap went straight on the counter since I didn’t have a soap dish, necklaces went on the first rack-thing I saw at Target, and earrings stayed in the boxes I’d moved them in (in which they are tangled and impossible to find). My new Target towels looked good, but this one is dirty!

    Movein Bathroom Counter

    My bathroom looked pretty much like this — shower curtain-less, with things stuffed into the cabinet– for a few months before I could finally get around to tackling the first stage of the room. Some of this stage was new purchases to help with function, some of it was a matter of moving things around. I had gotten a dingy looking plant stand with a glass top from my last job. They were going to throw it away, but I liked the clean lines! A basic Target shower curtain helped helped hide the necessary plastic one behind it and pumped up the fun factor. After a few months, the room had much more personality.

    DSC_0241

    The plant I plopped on plant stand came from my Oma’s house, just like Fred the Fish. I repotted it in this IKEA basket. I wished I’d picked up another matching basket for toilet paper to sit on the floor beneath it! Alas, the no longer sell the baskets! Arg! I’m bummed. Instead I usually stick a watering can there that I fill up in the shower when the water is getting hot before I get in. The plant on top really brings some life to the space, it’s thriving on the humidity too! Plus I washed my hand towel. Who’s proud? Me! Such an adult.

    Over on the vanity, things changed less dramatically. I still haven’t found a great solution for my jewelry, but I did get a soap dish! The little things, right? This looks one billion times better than leaving it on the counter. Plus the counter stays shiny longer this way after I clean it.

    Bathroom vanity

    The glass jars I bought at Cost Plus World Market. They were exactly what I hoped to find. How often does that happen?! I wanted something square with a thick, sturdy glass, and — most importantly– a rubber seal. I wanted the latter to prevent moisture and germs and what have you from getting into the jars. I don’t know how protective the rubber really is, but I wanted something that would theoretically seal the jars off.

    Bathroom jars

    The jars add so much functionality to the space! They store many of the big space stealers from my medicine cabinet. I use the jars for cotton pads which I use to remove eye make-up and put on toner; q-tips for the ears; and these little plastic flossers which I swear I’ll never buy again, because they add so much to the landfill and who actually flosses anyways? Just kidding I floss every monthonce a week, I mean, twice a day. Regardless, the jars fit into the previously unused corner of the wide vanity and allow me to fill the medicine cabinet with more important things, like Honest Beauty products. Ha!

    Just for honesty sake, I do have to say, the kitty litter box lives in here too. It’s the only place for it in the house. I’m still brainstorming on a prettier way to hide it, but for now, it lives next to the toilet complete with the carpet sample I stole from work (spoiler: it doesn’t really work to prevent litter tracking…)

    Bathroom Litter Box

    The room is definitely getting there though! It’s amazing what a few tweaks will do. What else do I have on my bathroom to-do list??

    • Find the perfect glass storage jars
    • Add a piece of furniture to place a glass of water or a book on when I take a bath
    • New shower curtain
    • Necklace holder
    • Soap dish
    • Better jewelry storage, perhaps building an earring holder??
    • Add some plants in small pots on top of the toilet back
    • Paint the plant stand gold to go with the shower curtain
    • find a better way to hide the kitty litter box
    • Organize the vanity cabinet to better contain everything I hide away down there
    • Hang art
    • Even more plants?!
    • Take so many bubble baths!

    It’s not quite there yet, but it’s close! For now, I’m loving this look!

    Bathroom phase one

    Have you been adding some functional touches to your home lately? Isn’t it great what that last little bit adds to the space? It’s like, “Wow, now that they’re not buried in the depths of the vanity cabinet, I can actually find my q-tips!” The little things in life!

    P.S. If you’ve been watching the Walking Dead, tell me because I need to talk about it!!!