A Brookside bathroom renovation gets the finishing touches

I am very close to finishing the renovation that I started on my Kansas City Shirtwaist in Brookside over six months ago. You’d think that I have reimagined and reconfigured every surface of the house. Not so. I finished the third floor and re-did a bathroom on the second. It sounds easier than it’s been.

When I started thinking about finishing the attic space, I planned a bathroom just above the bathroom on the second floor, which serves the three bedrooms there. Finishing the third floor creates another bedroom space for us and allows for someone to make it a master suite. (I’ve considered this myself.)

Finishing the second-floor bath was something of a “while I’m at it.” The existing tile and fixtures were not my taste and I craved a clean, white palette.

The plumbing for the third-floor bath turned out to be a much bigger process than I had anticipated and because of this, the second-floor bath was torn down to the studs. The good news: brand new plumbing for two of the house’s three baths. The bad news: The second-floor bath has been in some state of disarray since October.

There’s no reason for this. I’d ordered the product in advance and it sat, patiently waiting, in my garage. The plumbers came and plumbed. The tilers came and tiled. But the contractor did not install the built-in cabinet until the day he finished (five and a half months into a two-month project. I swear I’m almost over it.)

I’d asked him a couple of times if he could install the cabinet. The problem was not so much that I needed the cabinet finished. The problem was that all the things—the shampoo, toiletries, pain-killers (of which I took a few), hair products, hair dryer, brushes, cleaning supplies and toilet brush—that live in that cabinet have taken up temporary residence in my bedroom.

I purchased a small metal rack to hold the stuff that must live there—toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion—which creates a constant visual jumble. (I cannot blame the boys. I’m messy.)

Beyond that, the towel bar cannot be installed until the cabinet is finished. (Long story, trust me.) So each of us has to carry a towel in when we shower. Except the boys just pile theirs on the toilet tank. The bottom line is the room is in a constant state of disorder.

The painters arrived after the contractor moved on. When I showed the man in charge what needed to be finished, he leaned around the shower wall to look at the cabinet tucked neatly behind. “Very narrow,” he said. This did not bode well.

The painters finished up the third floor last week. It’s clean and bright and nearly complete. (Only the floor remains on the to-do list.)

They are coming back this week to finish the second-floor bath and touch up the hallway for me. I think we can both guess which will happen first.

Do as I say

Despite the disorder that comes with all renovations, lots of things went right on this project. I did most of the legwork as far as product goes for both of the baths I remodeled. My aim was to purchase quality products without having to eat cat food to make it happen.

Fixtures and fitting

I like Kohler. I don’t like Kohler exclusively; there are a few suppliers who I think have beautiful products, but I’ve used Kohler before and I think their products are great aesthetically and functionally. Their Memoirs line of fixtures always seems at home in my old houses.

Hardware and lighting

Visual Comfort has a broad line of lighting with a wide selection of styles and finishes. I like Thomas O’Brien’s product especially, but there’s not an aesthetic that they don’t cover. Visual Comfort is “trade only,” but their products are available direct to customers at Circa Lighting.

Shower and tub doors

I’m oh-so-over shower curtains, but I did not want to mess with sliding doors on the tub/shower on the second floor. They always seem in the way, tricky to clean and make it impossible to bathe a baby. (And, no, I don’t have a baby or plan to, but I am always thinking “resale.”)

Fortunately, most glass installers can put in a pivoting “door” that extends about a third of the way from the wall. This keeps water off the floor and makes the tub—and small people or a dog—easy to clean. These are available pre-construction through many vendors as well.

Bathmats, storage, etc.

I love Dash and Albert rugs and usually have them in my bathrooms. I like their cotton rugs, but their outdoor rugs would work great as well. I buy mine through Stuff in Brookside.

While I do mostly buy local, I have fallen in love with Food 52 ( Several of their products are great for stylish storage. I just bought a leaning ladder from them to hold blankets on the third floor, but it would make great towel storage as well. I don’t need them in my bathroom because I’ll have towel storage in my cabinet. Someday.